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U.S. to deliver humanitarian supplies inside Afghanistan

Leaflets, radio broadcasts may follow

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. Defense Department is preparing to begin delivering humanitarian supplies, including food, to refugees inside Afghanistan, Pentagon officials told CNN on Thursday.

U.S. officials are still working out the logistical details of the relief effort with Pakistani officials.

It is still not clear whether the humanitarian relief will be air-dropped to the refugees or if the supplies will be delivered by air only as far as Pakistan and then driven to the refugee sites. The Pentagon is preparing for both possibilities, sources said.

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If delivered over land, it is still unclear whether the food and other items will be transported by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) or by Pakistani or even U.S. government vehicles and personnel, U.S. defense officials said.

The plastic-wrapped meals consist primarily of grain and vegetable items. There is no pork or other meats or additives that might be considered offensive to Muslims.

The pre-packaged meals, modeled on the U.S. military's Meals Ready to Eat (MREs), were last used to provide food to Muslim Kosovar-Albanians fleeing Yugoslav army troops during the 1998 NATO conflict with Yugoslavia.

Sources at the Pentagon also told CNN that leaflets are being prepared for delivery to the people of Afghanistan.

Programs such as leaflet drops are typically operated jointly by the U.S. State Department and U.S. military psychological operations units. The programs are intended as weapons in the war for the "hearts and minds" of civilian populations.

Such operations are also often geared toward undermining support for existing governments, in this case Afghanistan's ruling Taliban, which provides sanctuary to suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden and members of his al Qaeda organization.

Radio broadcasts into Afghanistan are also being considered as another tool in undermining support for the Taliban.

-- CNN National Security Producer Chris Plante contributed to this report.


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