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****U.S. Forces Enter Cave Complex****
AP | Tuesday, March 5, 2002 | By KATHY GANNON

Posted on 03/05/2002 7:04:04 PM PST by JohnHuang2

GARDEZ, Afghanistan (AP) - Hundreds of Taliban and al-Qaida fighters were killed in fierce fighting Tuesday as U.S.-led coalition forces pressed their offensive in the rugged mountains of eastern Afghanistan, the American commander said.

U.S. forces in the region said as many as 800 opposition fighters had been seen moving toward the battle since the American-led operation was launched on Saturday.

``We caught several hundred of them with RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades) and mortars heading toward the fight. We body slammed them today and killed hundreds of those guys,'' said Maj. Gen. Frank L. Hagenbeck, the commander of the operation near Gardez, 75 miles south of Kabul, the capital.

U.S.-led forces continued inching up the snow-covered mountains, meanwhile, trying to reach hideouts still believed to contain hundreds more al-Qaida and Taliban fighters. Some forces entered at least one cave complex, uncovering weapons caches.

Allied jets flew high over Paktia province, dropping bombs as well as decoy flares to ward off heat-seeking missiles - defensive measures after two U.S. helicopters were hit Monday in incidents that left seven U.S. soldiers dead.

Front-line commander Abdul Matin Hasankhiel said hundreds of Afghan and coalition forces have ringed the mountain range and trapped the al-Qaida and Taliban fighters higher up.

``They can't escape. They're surrounded. Slowly, slowly we are pushing in,'' he said.

Hundreds of al-Qaida and Taliban fighters are believed to be holed up in the area, Brig. Gen. John Rosa told reporters at the Pentagon. Bombers and tactical aircraft have dropped more than 450 bombs on the area since the assault began Friday night, he said.

``We've been able to get into at least one of the cave complexes thus far and we've discovered mortars, rocket-propelled grenade rounds, small arms. And in a different location we found more weapons and ammunition, as well as foreign driver's licenses and foreign passports,'' he said. He did not say whether there was resistance entering the cave complex.

One fighter, Nawab, who returned from a front-line position Tuesday, said about 50 U.S. special Forces were fighting alongside Afghan soldiers at his position about 2 1/2 miles from Shah-e-Kot, the village that is the focus of the largest U.S.-led coalition air and ground operation in Afghanistan to date.

Mine sweepers were leading the way, clearing the paths along the snowy mountains. Attack jets circled overhead and pounded al-Qaida positions while Chinook helicopters ferried in supplies. A powerful fleet of aircraft - including A-10s, F-15s, B-1s, B-52s, AC-130 gunships, and French Mirage 2000 and Super-Etendard aircraft - was participating in the assault.

The blitz was concentrating on a 60-square-mile area south of the provincial capital, Gardez.

Nawab said fighting was less intense than in previous days. The militants were equipped with heavy artillery, anti-aircraft weapons, mortars, cannons and machine guns.

``Inshallah (God willing) in three or four days they will be finished,'' he said.

U.S. officials said Tuesday the United States had observed al-Qaida forces reoccupying several former training camps in the region that were bombed earlier in the war.

``We don't know how long it's going to take, but we'll be there until the al-Qaida and Taliban forces are totally uprooted,'' said Gunnery Sgt. Charles Portman, a spokesman at the U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Fla.

The eight American servicemen killed in Afghanistan were honored in Germany before their flag-draped caskets were flown back to the United States. A C-17 transport jet brought the men's remains to Ramstein Air Base and was met on the tarmac by a U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force honor guard for the somber ceremony under cloudy skies in the wooded hills of western Germany.

``We should make sure these very brave people who lost their lives did not do so in vain,'' British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Tuesday, calling for the world to redouble its efforts to stamp out terrorism.

Neither the former Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammed Omar nor al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden was believed to be in the Shah-e-Kot area, but Afghans say hundreds of their supporters and their families are there.

U.S. officials said Tuesday the enemy troops included foreigners who fought with the Taliban, al-Qaida members, and members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.

As of Monday, about 100 or 200 enemy fighters had been killed and a small number detained, said Gen. Tommy Franks, commander of the war in Afghanistan.

Afghan and American defense officials said the Taliban and al-Qaida fighters were likely armed with shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles such as Russian SA-7s and possibly American Stingers - as well as mortars, grenades and cannons.

Five Marine Corps AH-1W Cobra attack helicopters entered the fight in eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday, supplementing an aerial assault force depleted by damage earlier in the operation to Army Apache attack helicopters, Pentagon officials said.

A number of AH-64 Apaches took extensive fire from small arms Monday in battles south of the city of Gardez. The Apaches completed their missions and none was shot down, but an undetermined number sustained enough damage from ground fire to require repairs, the officials said.

On Tuesday, about 60 Afghan fighters outfitted in U.S.-issued parkas, their heads wrapped in turbans, headed to the front lines from Jaji, northeast of Gardez. Bright orange strips were affixed to the top of the transport trucks to identify them to the allied bombers and helicopters roaring overhead.

The American deaths Monday occurred during two operations involving MH-47 Chinook helicopters, Rosa said. In the first, a helicopter inserting special forces was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, forcing it down. As it tried to lift off, one American fell out, Rosa said. Another helicopter retrieved the rest of the crew.

Maj. Gen. Frank L. Hagenbeck, the commander of the operation, said the serviceman was captured by al-Qaida fighters and then killed. He was not missed until a head count was taken after the chopper was airborne.

Pentagon officials identified him as Petty Officer 1st class Neil C. Roberts, 32, of Woodland, Calif. Roberts was based in Norfolk, Va., with a Navy SEAL unit.

Three hours later, a Chinook was trying to land forces in the same area when it was hit by machine-gun fire and a rocket-propelled grenade, Rosa said. The helicopter was forced down, and a gunbattle took place in which six U.S. soldiers were killed. When members of that helicopter were evacuated, the body of the soldier who fell from the first was found, Rosa said.

Sgt. Rodrick White, 23, an infantryman from Enterprise, Ala., who is stationed along with the 101st Airborne at the U.S. air base in Kandahar, said he was saddened by news of the American casualties, but said he and his men were ready if called upon to take part in the fighting in eastern Afghanistan.

``The guys that got hurt before me are in my heart and in my mind, but I know that I have five other guys that are right beside me and it's my responsibility to make sure that they get home,'' he said.

U.S. intelligence, meanwhile, has learned of plots to conduct multiple car bombings in Kabul against both western interests and the Karzai government, said a U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

They were to be conducted by terrorist cells with links to al-Qaida, the official said. It's unclear what has become of these plots.

Editors note: Associated Press correspondent Jonathan Ewing contributed to this report from Sirkankel, Afghanistan.



TOPICS: Breaking News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: talibanlist; warlist
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Quote of the Day by Mom_Grandmother
1 posted on 03/05/2002 7:04:04 PM PST by JohnHuang2
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To: JohnHuang2
FReepathon Continues!

GREAT FREEPER QUOTE FROM THE FREEPATHON THREAD:

2366 posted on 3/3/02 6:57 PM Pacific by McGavin999

"A lot of people come to FreeRepublic on a daily basis for their news. Strangely, many of them never stop to think about how this site is paid for. Many have no idea that FreeRepublic is fully funded by the people who use the site.

If everyone who was registered donated $1 a month, we'd never have to have a fund raiser. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen. Some people think their $5 or $10 wouldn't make a difference, but it would."

Have a Heart!
Do Your Part!

2 posted on 03/05/2002 7:08:20 PM PST by Jen
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To: JohnHuang2
I'd Love to be there.. But I am way too big for tunnel duty :-(

Semper Fi Go get 'em BOys
3 posted on 03/05/2002 7:08:37 PM PST by NormsRevenge
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Comment #4 Removed by Moderator

To: JohnHuang2
Go get them boys!

Please pray for our troops.

5 posted on 03/05/2002 7:09:59 PM PST by Jean S
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To: JeanS
Amen, Jean. They need our prayers now more than ever.
6 posted on 03/05/2002 7:10:57 PM PST by JohnHuang2
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Comment #7 Removed by Moderator

To: JohnHuang2
A powerful fleet of aircraft - including A-10s, F-15s, B-1s, B-52s, AC-130 gunships, and French Mirage 2000 and Super-Etendard aircraft - was participating in the assault.

I'm glad to see the A-10s in the fight, these Warthogs won't be crashing due to RPGs hitting a helo's tail or main rotor.

8 posted on 03/05/2002 7:12:15 PM PST by Enlightiator
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To: AFVetGal
Thanks for your assistance in the "other" thread :)
9 posted on 03/05/2002 7:13:18 PM PST by Enlightiator
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To: JohnHuang2
maybe they'll find adolph bin laden's body in there...he's had to have been dead for at least a couple months...he has/had too much ego to not have released another video by now
10 posted on 03/05/2002 7:14:06 PM PST by InvisibleChurch
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To: zuluoscar
Are you stalking me from thread to thread?

Stop pestering me. I'm working hard for the FReepathon.

11 posted on 03/05/2002 7:14:07 PM PST by Jen
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To: Enlightiator
Exactly -- these al-Qaeda bastards are about to learn a very valuable lesson not to screw with the U.S.

When the President said we will hunt them down where ever they hide, he meant it.

12 posted on 03/05/2002 7:14:52 PM PST by JohnHuang2
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To: Enlightiator
You're welcome. Did you get a reply from the sidebar moderator?
13 posted on 03/05/2002 7:15:44 PM PST by Jen
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To: AFVetGal
And doing a fine job of it too :-)

Kudos to all the folks and to the FReePathon
14 posted on 03/05/2002 7:15:46 PM PST by NormsRevenge
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To: JohnHuang2
Oh how I wish bin Laden & Omar were in there!

May God bless and protect our soldiers.

15 posted on 03/05/2002 7:18:16 PM PST by Pokey78
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To: JohnHuang2
We may have to kill a hundred million of these bastards to make the world safe.
16 posted on 03/05/2002 7:18:30 PM PST by doug from upland
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To: NormsRevenge
Thank you for the support. Can you believe 'some' people don't appreciate my 'carpet bombing' efforts?!?!?!
17 posted on 03/05/2002 7:18:33 PM PST by Jen
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To: AFVetGal
Keep up the great work, until the goals are met to keep this website running!!!! keep posting away :-)
18 posted on 03/05/2002 7:19:13 PM PST by MJY1288
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To: JohnHuang2
I hope Allah's stocked up on almond-eyed virgins.
19 posted on 03/05/2002 7:19:56 PM PST by kezekiel
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To: JohnHuang2
Same article, different title?
20 posted on 03/05/2002 7:20:08 PM PST by blam
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To: MJY1288
Soon as the goal is met, I will gladly stop posting fundraiser commercials! Thanks for the support!
21 posted on 03/05/2002 7:21:26 PM PST by Jen
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To: JohnHuang2
100% support for our brave brothers!

I hope that I don't run into any anti-war types any time soon, because I'm gonna be thinking of those guys who died for us a few days ago, and those who died in all wars before.

22 posted on 03/05/2002 7:21:45 PM PST by lormand
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To: Pokey78
Oh how I wish bin Laden & Omar were in there!

Methinks OBL assumed cave temperature during Tora Bora (the silence is deafening).

As for Omar, he can run, but he can't hide -- we'll get him, sooner or later.

23 posted on 03/05/2002 7:21:50 PM PST by JohnHuang2
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To: doug from upland
Whatever it takes.
24 posted on 03/05/2002 7:22:45 PM PST by JohnHuang2
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To: AFVetGal
Eagles Up to you for your devotion and support
25 posted on 03/05/2002 7:22:50 PM PST by MJY1288
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To: AFVetGal
Good job, my friend.
26 posted on 03/05/2002 7:23:32 PM PST by JohnHuang2
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To: JohnHuang2
"We body slammed them today and killed hundreds of those guys."

Well done General.

27 posted on 03/05/2002 7:23:51 PM PST by sixmil
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To: AFVetGal
I believe that Saturation Bombing IS NOT Addictive !!!! LOL

Keep it up AFVetGal .... We lived thru OJ didn't we ? :-\
28 posted on 03/05/2002 7:24:05 PM PST by NormsRevenge
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To: JohnHuang2
Kicking Jihad arse bump!
29 posted on 03/05/2002 7:24:26 PM PST by VRWC For Truth
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To: VRWC For Truth
Bump!
30 posted on 03/05/2002 7:25:51 PM PST by JohnHuang2
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To: AFVetGal
I LOVE your Freepathon posts. Thank you for helping Free Republic stay up and running. Your delightful posts are positively ingenious. God bless FR and God bless you for your service to the cause!
31 posted on 03/05/2002 7:26:44 PM PST by WillaJohns
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To: JohnHuang2
I agree with you John, aAnd the only reason why it hasn't been announced to the public is because the same sniveling jelly fish who are so quick to come to the defense of battlefield combatants being held in GitMo, will be the first screaming from the rooftops calling for President Bush to end this global war on terrorism. Either way the spineless liberals are not on our side
32 posted on 03/05/2002 7:27:20 PM PST by MJY1288
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To: AFVetGal
my 'carpet bombing'

You go, girl!

Long live FR.

33 posted on 03/05/2002 7:31:00 PM PST by calypgin
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To: AFVetGal
You're welcome. Did you get a reply from the sidebar moderator?,p> No, I did not, but thanks for trying. I did find a story on the "Front Page" sidebar that was similar in that it detailed the Al-Qaeda being seen (via the Predator) killing the Navy Seal, but it didn't have the part about the Al-Qaeda being seen "dragging the Navy Seal away". So it could have been pulled from breaking news because it was similar.

I liked the old days on FR when you would see what appeared to be a dupication, but was a similar story by another source (as mine was), with different information. But nowadays, the first article to be published to "breaking news" is "it", regardless of NEW information in other artilces on the same story. IMHO, the "Breaking News" sidebar is FAR WORSE than it was before the moderators went wild. I used to count on the latest news there, but now, theres so much fluff and the best artilces aren't always there. I have gone back to the DrudgeReport for the best articles on breaking news....

Getting of Soapbox now, lol...sorry you asked?

34 posted on 03/05/2002 7:31:14 PM PST by Enlightiator
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To: JohnHuang2
Betcha there won't be any surrender deals in Operation Anaconda.

Sorry, Jihadists, no more room at the Gitmo Inn.

Your next destination....the Houri and Harp Hotel.

Leni

35 posted on 03/05/2002 7:32:59 PM PST by MinuteGal
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To: Enlightiator
way tooo damn much fluff for sure
36 posted on 03/05/2002 7:35:34 PM PST by NormsRevenge
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To: JohnHuang2
Re the American prisoner murdered by the Taliban. Were'nt we assured by the Socialists that if we treated our prisoners "humanely" that the enemy would reciprocate.
37 posted on 03/05/2002 7:38:44 PM PST by BnBlFlag
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To: MinuteGal
Betcha there won't be any surrender deals in Operation Anaconda.

Sorry, Jihadists, no more room at the Gitmo Inn.

Your next destination....the Houri and Harp Hotel.

Bump!

38 posted on 03/05/2002 7:39:05 PM PST by JohnHuang2
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To: doug from upland
Doug, with all due respect, one hundred million seems high.
39 posted on 03/05/2002 7:40:41 PM PST by plymaniac
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To: BnBlFlag
Re the American prisoner murdered by the Taliban. Were'nt we assured by the Socialists that if we treated our prisoners "humanely" that the enemy would reciprocate.

Exactly. Libs have more sympathy for these Hannibal Lectors than they do for our own troops.

40 posted on 03/05/2002 7:42:15 PM PST by JohnHuang2
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To: doug from upland
No, The trick is to kill a few thousand of the right ones :-)
41 posted on 03/05/2002 7:43:50 PM PST by NormsRevenge
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To: plymaniac
Well, one billion Muslims --- I guessed that 10% were Islamists.
42 posted on 03/05/2002 7:46:43 PM PST by doug from upland
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To: doug from upland
Fair enough. The number of actual combatants is small, if you exclude the Muslim Sheeple. It's the danger from the actual combatants that is HUGE, if not approaching infinity. The need to terminate them is real, unfortunately for the persons who have to do it.
43 posted on 03/05/2002 7:55:57 PM PST by plymaniac
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To: JohnHuang2
As for Omar, he can run, but he can't hide

I think you mean:
As for Omar, he can run, but he got no depth perception...

44 posted on 03/05/2002 8:02:36 PM PST by lafroste
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To: lafroste
hehehe
45 posted on 03/05/2002 8:11:20 PM PST by JohnHuang2
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To: JohnHuang2
``We caught several hundred of them with RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades) and mortars heading toward the fight. We body slammed them today and killed hundreds of those guys,'' said Maj. Gen. Frank L. Hagenbeck

Actually, I nominate the fine and honorable Major General for honorary Freeper quote of the day.

Can't think of a finer one than that.

46 posted on 03/05/2002 8:19:30 PM PST by Scott from the Left Coast
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To: MinuteGal
Bingo!
47 posted on 03/05/2002 8:20:35 PM PST by Spruce
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To: JohnHuang2
kill 'em all!
let satan sort 'em out!
48 posted on 03/05/2002 8:21:01 PM PST by rockfish59
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To: JohnHuang2
I don't think they'll live long enough to learn anything :-}
49 posted on 03/05/2002 8:21:03 PM PST by tiki
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To: NormsRevenge
Let's Roll!!
50 posted on 03/05/2002 8:32:50 PM PST by Bullish
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