Afghanistan: March 11, 2002

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Fighting continues near Gardez, although one battalion (400 troops) of the American force have been withdrawn. Bad weather over the last few days has limited air attacks. Enemy resistance has diminished, with few al Qaeda troops being encountered as Coalition patrols moves across the mountain side cave complexes. U.S. bombers still circle overhead, and bombs can still be heard going off as coalition troops encounter resistance. Only about 200 al Qaeda fighters are thought to remain in the hills outside Gardez. But the al Qaeda had not put up much resistance for the last three days. The enemy has apparently decided to flee, but is finding that difficult because of the many Afghan and Coalition patrols moving around the area. Coalition commandos are covering the terrain along the Pakistan border, making flight in that direction difficult. 

Because many Taliban and al Qaeda troops moved towards Gardez when Coalition troops moved in, it is estimated that 500-800 enemy troops were killed over nine days of combat. The combination of air power (including powerful reconnaissance capability) and ground troops meant that enemy soldiers were only able to gain momentary advantages and were ultimately blasted by bombs and infantry weapons. By the time the al Qaeda realized they were outmatched, most of them were surrounded or under heavy fire. Only eight Americans and three Afghans have been killed while a total of 70 Coalition and Afghan troops have been wounded. 


 

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