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Bush: 'We're smoking them out'

A landing craft carrying U.S. Marines exits the assault ship USS Peleliu Wednesday in the Arabian Sea. Military officials say the Marines took command of a secret airstrip in southern Afghanistan Monday.  

(CNN) -- President Bush said Monday U.S. forces were smoking out the people responsible for the September 11 attacks, and stressed Afghanistan "is just the beginning" in the war on terrorism.

"I said a long time ago, one of our objectives is to smoke them out and get them running and bring them to justice," Bush said.

"We're smoking them out. They're running. And now we're going to bring them to justice. I also said we'll use whatever means necessary to achieve that objective -- and that's exactly what we're going to do."

Bush said the United States has entered a "dangerous period" in the war against terrorism and warned that Americans should expect some U.S. combat deaths.

"Obviously, no president or commander in chief hopes anybody loses life in the theater [of war], but it's going to happen," he said.

"I believe the American people understand that we have got a mighty struggle on our hands and that there will be sacrifice." (Full story)

CNN's Donna Kelley and retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Don Shepperd talk about the type support Marines will have in Afghanistan (November 26)

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CNN's Satinder Bindra reports that Northern Alliance officials claim they have entered Konduz, the Taliban's last stronghold in the north (November 26)

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Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said U.S. Marines seized an airport near the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar, giving U.S. forces a staging area for operations in southern Afghanistan. The airport is the same one U.S. Army Rangers checked out in a raid last month.

About 500 Marines of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit -- an amphibious group that can conduct special operations -- are on the ground.

Pentagon sources said it could be another day before the full complement of more than 1,000 Marines arrives by helicopter from their ships in the Arabian Sea. Much of the heavy weaponry is being offloaded in Pakistan and then flown in by C-130s.

The Marine Corps said the troops would be in "a variety of follow-on operations, including road interdiction." The Pentagon said the Marines would help apply pressure on al Qaeda and Taliban forces. (Full story)

In Konduz, meanwhile, Northern Alliance troops were consolidating their hold on the city. (Full story)

In an apparent push for control in the southern part of the Kandahar province near the Pakistan border, Pashtun tribal leaders and their troops began securing control of rural areas south of the city of Kandahar from Taliban forces.

Troops from Pashtun tribes in Kandahar province took over the village of Rag and were attempting to negotiate a Taliban surrender in nearby Showrawak, according to Mullah Mulang, an anti-Taliban Pashtun commander in Quetta, Pakistan.

Both are towns south of Spin Boldak, just over the Chaman border crossing in Pakistan.

Latest developments

• Secretary of State Colin Powell told CNN Monday that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein should take President Bush's demand that Iraq international weapons inspections to resume as a "very sober, chilling message." During a Rose Garden appearance, the president said Hussein "needs to let inspectors back in his country to show us that he is not developing weapons of mass destruction." Asked what would happen if the Iraqi leader did not, Bush said, "He'll find out."

• The U.S. oil and gas industry has put itself on an increased security alert following an FBI warning that supporters of Osama bin Laden might be planning attacks, according to industry sources. (Full story)

• In Mazar-e Sharif, U.S. airstrikes and alliance fighters continued to put down rebel Taliban soldiers. An errant bomb injured five members of a U.S. special operations force during U.S. airstrikes Sunday attempting to control the uprising, the Pentagon said Monday. They were airlifted to Uzbekistan for medical treatment, said Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (Full story)

• The former Taliban ambassador to Pakistan said Monday 1,200 U.S. troops had moved into the town of Takhtapul by helicopter, cutting off a main road between Kandahar and the Pakistan border. Another Taliban diplomat said the U.S. troops had also brought in tanks to block the road. The reports could not be immediately confirmed.

• Marine helicopters were involved in an attack on an armored column just hours after their arrival in Afghanistan. The Cobra helicopter gunships were in the area and observing as Navy F-14s attacked the convoy, the U.S. Central Command said. It was not clear who was in the convoy, but Maj. Brad Lowell, a spokesman for the Marine Corps with the command, said it appeared to be "enemy vehicles."

• The United Nations refugee agency reported Monday that Afghan refugees who had fled the fighting are returning to their homes in Kabul and points north. "Due to the relative stability of Kabul, more than 1,500 people returned to the city over the weekend. Most of those returning had fled during the bombing to nearby provinces and decided to return before the winter," said a statement from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

• Northern Alliance Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah said Monday he believes Osama bin Laden is in Taliban-controlled Kandahar, saying it is the only place where he and his forces could find refuge. "I think Osama and his forces are contained, they are not free to operate throughout the country," Abdullah said.

• Despite military victories, a spokesman for U.S.-led coalition forces said Monday that "we are still far away from the resolution of the situation in Afghanistan. We haven't found bin Laden, al Qaeda still exists, even in a reduced form, and the Taliban are still hanging on," said Kenton Keith, director of the Coalition Information Service.

• The Pentagon Sunday denied reports that any American military personnel were killed in the prison uprising in Mazar-e Sharif. The U.S. Central Command said it could not rule out any casualties among any other branches of the government.

• Pakistan fortified border security with Afghanistan on Monday, practically sealing main entry points, said Maj. Gen. Rashid Qureshi, official spokesman of Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf. In some cases, pictures of al Qaeda members and radical Arab fighters have been supplied in an effort to spot them and prevent them from entering Pakistan.

• Talks begin this week in Bonn, Germany, on establishing a broad-based interim government in post-war Afghanistan. The talks, which are expected to last up to two weeks, have been arranged by the United Nations in an attempt to restore stability and democracy in the country after more than 20 years of fighting. (Full story)

• The fate of Afghan Taliban fighters will be decided "case-by-case," with most of them allowed to go home, said Kenton Keith, an American ambassador representing the coalition in Islamabad, on Sunday. "They will be disarmed," he said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "It is unlikely, we think, that they will be able to reorganize and pose a threat."


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