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Britain: 30 Afghan targets hit

Geoff Hoon
Hoon said terrorism must be "rooted out" wherever it is found  

LONDON, England (CNN) -- Thirty targets across Afghanistan were hit by U.S. and British forces in the first anti-terror military action operation against the Taliban.

Admiral Michael Boyce, chief of the UK defence staff, said three targets were in Kabul, four were near inhabited areas and the other 23 were in remote, uninhabited areas.

It was the first military action since the U.S.-declared war on terror launched in the wake of the suicide hijackings that destroyed the World Trade Center and damaged The Pentagon.

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U.K. Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon: "Civilians not targeted"
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The targets included terrorist training camps, military airfields, and air defence sites.

It is not clear how much damage was inflicted, and how successful the operation was, but battle assessment investigations are under way.

The offensive centred on knocking out Taliban anti-aircraft defences and the Central Asian country's tiny air force, Boyce said at a Ministry of Defence meeting in London.

Camps and training facilities of the al-Qaeda network of Osama bin Laden, the suspected mastermind behind the hijack attacks, were also hit, he added.

Further operations were imminent and British warplanes were being sent to the area to back up U.S. forces, he said.

Britain has three nuclear-powered submarines in the area -- HMS Superb, HMS Trafalgar and HMS Triumph, which can fire Tomahawk missiles.

Boyce would not reveal how many missiles had been fired, nor which of the submarines had been involved in Sunday's strikes.

The Afghan civilian population, their homes and property had not been targeted, reporters were told. British Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon said his country's forces were "committed" to a "relentless" and "sustained" campaign.

Asked if ground forces would be sent in to Afghanistan, Hoon said that "was clearly an option."

But he said it was possible the Taliban would collapse under the pressure of the air strikes and that Western ground troops would not have to be deployed in a hostile environment.

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