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Pentagon says al Qaeda camp destroyed

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. forces are wrapping up their search of an al Qaeda camp in eastern Afghanistan and have knocked it out of commission with airstrikes, the Pentagon said Monday.

Rear Adm. John Stufflebeem, a Pentagon spokesman, said the al Qaeda base at Zawar Kili covered about nine square miles. The camp included more than 60 buildings and a complex of about 50 tunnels.

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"It was observed, once we got Special Operations forces on the ground to look at this complex, that this had been at one time a significant al Qaeda facility," Stufflebeem said.

"Systematically, the forces on the ground have been inspecting these facilities and then calling in strikes to be able to either close the cave or to level the above-ground facilities," he said.

U.S. warplanes dropped nine precision-guided bombs on the camp in a three-hour period Monday morning after a weekend of intense bombing. The camp is near the Afghan-Pakistan border, and the impact of the bombs could be felt in the Pakistani border town of Miram Shah about 6 miles (10 kilometers) away.

"Over the course of the weekend, as I understand it, we have leveled the remaining structures that were found on the surface, and we have closed all the caves that we would intend not to be occupied," Stufflebeem said.

Monday marked the 100th day of the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan, which began October 7.

The area around Zawar Kili has long been considered a haven for al Qaeda fighters, and U.S. troops have enountered scattered pockets of opposition in the area. The complex had been recently inhabited by al Qaeda fighters, Stufflebeem said, but he said it was not certain how recently they had been there.



 
 
 
 



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