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Marines Engage in Action in Afghanistan

Aired November 26, 2001 - 14:53   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: We have been reporting since last night that U.S. Marines have now landed in southern Afghanistan. They number now in the hundreds, more are coming in. The ones who are there, apparently, already involved in some fighting.

For the very latest, let's go to the Pentagon and to our Bob Franken -- Bob.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, Captain David Romley, who is a Marine spokesman on the ground in Afghanistan, has told wire service reporters that U.S. military marine helicopter gunships have attacked an armored column. But they would not specify -- he would not specify -- whose armored column it was nor the direction it was heading.

But it would become the first Marine action since the deployment of the Marine units from the ships off the shore of Afghanistan. About 500 are in place now and another 500, 600 or so, are expected before the operation is set up at an airfield southwest of Kandahar.

Now it known, of course, that the Taliban are putting up a struggle to continue to hold Kandahar in the southern part of Afghanistan, but they are under attack by a coalition of opposition forces and the Marines have gone in in that particular circumstance.

Now, the reason that it is being reported the way it is is that the Pentagon had established kind of a convoluted media arrangement where Captain Tomley (sic) went into the area with two wire service reporters. So, when we asked for confirmation here, the response was, "Well, since it's coming from Captain Tomley (sic), it is obviously true.

So that is the confirmation we're getting, that the first military action by the Marines has commenced in southern Afghanistan, an attack by Marine helicopter gunships on an armored column, not identified who the adversaries were -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: So, Bob, we should assume that this column was heading away from Kandahar toward the border, towards southern Afghanistan?

FRANKEN: Well, it's difficult because they wouldn't say what direction it was heading in. We are reporting now by assumption because of this particular very unusual media relationship. WOODRUFF: All right. Bob Franken at the Pentagon with that late breaking story of those attacks -- firing on that column still underway, according to the Marines.

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