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1,000 U.S. troops raid Afghan towns

U.S. troops are trying to flush out al Qaeda and Taliban remnants.
U.S. troops are trying to flush out al Qaeda and Taliban remnants.

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KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (CNN) -- About 1,000 U.S. soldiers have launched a full-scale operation in southeast Afghanistan, targeting suspected al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists.

As the world watched events unfold in Iraq early Thursday morning, Operation Valiant Strike, begun with an air assault, just east of Kandahar, army officials confirmed on Thursday.

Troopers from the 82nd Airborne are handling the two-and-a-half day mission, focusing on three villages along the Pakistani border.

The U.S. Department of Defense said soldiers were sent into the area after military intelligence intercepted radio transmissions coming from caves located in the hills surrounding the three border towns.

Two teams of soldiers descended on the region within 30 minutes of one another, arriving in Humvees and Apache, Chinook and Blackhawk helicopters.

Valiant Strike follows in the wake of the military's last big anti-terror mission in Afghanistan, which was called Operation Anaconda.

Anaconda was the largest U.S.-led ground offensive since the 1991 Gulf War, using American and Canadian forces to hunt down terrorists in the Shah-e-kot region in eastern Afghanistan.

Hundreds of Taliban and al Qaeda fighters were killed in the three-week offensive. Eleven allied forces, including eight Americans, also died.

A U.S. official told CNN that Osama bin Laden was not the target of Valiant Strike but the official said he couldn't comment further.

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