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UK minister rules out invasion

wheat bags
Military and humanitarian aid is being executed in tandem  

LONDON, England -- Military strikes against Afghanistan are not the precursor to a mass invasion, a member of the UK's war cabinet has said.

Clare Short also said air strikes should be restricted to targets that are protecting the ruling Taliban or Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network.

Short, the UK's Secretary for International Development told the BBC, large amounts of aid were getting into Afghanistan.

She said: "There isn't going to be a mass land invasion. There will be some activity (but) the concept of swarms and swarms of troops all over Afghanistan, that is not going to happen.

"This is just not a classical war. This is not blanket bombing, it won't be, and there would be no point in that."

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She told the influential Today radio programme that every target proposed by the military leaders was reviewed by UK legal experts.

"It has to be targets that you need to bomb, in order for it to be legal," she said.

"The bombing should be restricted to targets which are protecting the Taliban's protection of the al Qaida network.

"We should always avoid any loss of civilian life, and that is the agreed strategy and that must be very carefully taken forward." Short said she believed that the international food programmes could prevent mass starvation in Afghanistan, and added that large quantities of food were getting through.

"It was 1,000 metric tonnes yesterday and it is going to be something like that tomorrow.

"That is the kind of level we have got to keep up for the next five weeks, both to get people fed now but to stock up the warehouses so Afghanistan can get through the winter, when the roads will be much more difficult to move food across."

At least 275,000 tons of food is needed for the next five months, according to the British aid group, Oxfam.

And the United Nations has expressed concern that the military action and red tape is hampering the humanitarian effort.

The U.S. military has dropped 35,000 daily ration packets each day since the air strikes began one week ago.

But the effort has been ridiculed by some groups as "military propaganda" and potentially dangerous in a nation littered with land mines after more than two decades of conflict.


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