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Pentagon: 'All of our forces' to be used in war

Kabul, Herat hit hard in latest airstrikes



(CNN) -- U.S. ground troops may soon take on a greater role in the three-week military campaign in Afghanistan, the Pentagon hinted on Friday, saying "all of our forces" will be used in the war on terrorism.

The comments came amid reports of heavy bombing in the western Afghan city of Herat and the capital, Kabul; complaints from the Northern Alliance that U.S.-led airstrikes have failed to effectively impair Taliban troops; and domestic concerns that the U.S. war effort had become bogged down in recent days.

Navy Rear Adm. John Stufflebeem said the Pentagon is "satisfied with the way the campaign is being conducted" but added the military operation in Afghanistan represented the "most difficult task we've had since the Second World War."

"We will utilize all of our forces and all of the types of warfare that we have to bring to bear, with the exception of weapons of mass destruction," Stufflebeem said.

Ground troops would be utilized in coordination with the air campaign once specific objectives had been achieved, he said. U.S. ground forces have already conducted at least one raid in Afghanistan.

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In Afghanistan, heavy bombing took place around Kabul on Friday, destroying several warehouses in a Red Cross compound, according to a Red Cross spokesman.

No injuries were reported in Friday's attack, which left the Red Cross with only one warehouse, where it stores food, blankets and other items for sick and disabled people, the spokesman in Islamabad, Pakistan, said. Other warehouses at the complex were destroyed in attacks on October 6.

The Pentagon said U.S. fighter jets and B-52 bombers inadvertently dropped 2,000-pound bombs on the warehouses. A 500-pound cluster bomb also went astray, hitting a civilian area near the same facility.

The Pentagon said it regrets the errors and emphasized that its campaign is intentionally striking "only military and terrorist targets."

Herat also came under fire Friday, as U.S. and British planes and cruise missiles struck several targets around the city, Iranian state-owned television reported.

According to the network's correspondents, one of the few journalists working in the city, four cruise missiles and U.S. planes targeted positions to the north and northeast of the city at 3:30 p.m. local time. Four U.S. and British planes bombed areas to the southwest of Herat at 8 a.m. on Friday, the network said.

As the airstrikes continued, the British said they are making 200 Royal Marines commandos available immediately to support the U.S.-led military campaign. Another 400 Marines were being "held at high readiness," Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram told Parliament on Friday.

Britain also was reassigning warships, submarines and planes to aid U.S.-led airstrikes against the Taliban and the al Qaeda network of suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden.

British troops will work in raiding parties, not as part of any major invasion force, Adm. Michael Boyce, chief of staff of the British armed forces, told reporters in London. These forces will search out targets such as drug factories, drug fields, munition dumps, clusters of military personnel and communications systems, Boyce said.

The length of the missions would be counted in hours, not days, according to Boyce. "If the Taliban sniff the air, somebody will be looking," he said.

Meanwhile, Northern Alliance foreign ministry sources said Friday that the group's leaders are frustrated by the U.S.-led military campaign, claiming the bombing has been ineffective in destroying Taliban defenses, despite the targeting information they have provided the coalition.

U.S. and British senior military and political officials have been meeting behind closed doors with Northern Alliance officials, the sources told CNN.

Asked about the Northern Alliance's concerns, Stufflebeem said the group and the United States are "mutually supporting" each other in attacks on the Taliban. But he added, "We are not going to adapt our game plan to theirs necessarily."

The anti-Taliban cause suffered a major blow Friday when the Taliban executed opposition leader Abdul Haq, an independent, non-Taliban source in Pakistan said. Haq entered Afghanistan on a peace mission on behalf of the country's exiled king, only to be arrested, accused of spying for the United States and killed after a brief trial Friday.



 
 
 
 



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