Blair vows to 'get' bin Laden
LONDON, England -- British Prime Minister Tony Blair has vowed that the mission to bring Osama bin Laden to justice in connection with the September 11 attacks will succeed, however long it takes.
Speaking on Wednesday, Blair said he was still considering whether to deploy British troops -- and if so which ones -- on the ground in Afghanistan, where the Saudi-born dissident is believed to be in hiding.
Government officials gave the strongest hint yet over the weekend that ground forces might be deployed.
Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon said on Monday that British troops were ready to go in on the ground in Afghanistan at "very short notice."
Blair, interviewed on GMTV, declined to give any more detail.
"I think everyone understands that this is not a conventional ground war. We are considering now what troops Britain would want to put into the conflict in Afghanistan," he said.
But he gave Britons an assurance that the U.S.-led military mission against bin Laden would succeed.
"We will get him in the end," he said.
Blair said the allies knew bin Laden was "on the move in Afghanistan."
This was the reason the military action was also being targeted at the country's Taliban rulers, who Blair said were protecting bin Laden.
"We have got to carry on until that regime is changed, or (until it) yields bin Laden up," he said. "The most important thing is that we stop them."
Blair said the military strikes which have pounded Afghanistan for more than two weeks had already inflicted major damage.
"One of our objectives has effectively been achieved, which is the destruction of the terrorist camps in Afghanistan," Blair said.
He said the nightly bombing raids had "considerably destroyed" many of the Taliban's military installations.
British defence officials said on Tuesday that nine training camps operated by bin Laden's al Qaeda group had been destroyed in the raids, and that nine airfields and 24 military barracks had been severely damaged.
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