American Forces Press Service

U.S., Coalition Continue Pressure in Gardez

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 11, 2002 -- U.S., Afghan and coalition forces will remain in the Gardez area of Afghanistan until the last pockets of Al Qaeda terrorists are eliminated, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said March 11.

Rumsfeld said he hopes the job will be finished this week. U.S. Central Command officials said they are satisfied with the progress of Operation Anaconda. They said hundreds of Al Qaeda have been killed in the fighting that started March 2.

U.S. forces are repositioning in the area to accomplish their missions, CENTCOM officials said. Rumsfeld said during a media availability at the Pentagon that some pockets of resistance remain, manned by some Al Qaeda "that need to surrender or be dealt with. The U.S. and coalition forces are dealing with that as we speak."

He said U.S. and coalition forces have captured Al Qaeda fighters. U.S. officials plan to question them.

Six months after the attacks in New York and the Pentagon, a great deal has been accomplished, Rumsfeld said. The Taliban no longer rules vast portions of Afghanistan, the Al Qaeda in the country are on the run, and the United States is working with a coalition to ensure terror networks such as Al Qaeda find no safe haven.

"We are assisting several countries around the world with training so that they, too, are able to deal more effectively with the terrorists in their own countries," Rumsfeld said.

Rumsfeld said the United States and its allies in this fight must continue to apply pressure on these terrorists. He said it is also important to ensure all elements of U.S. and coalition power -- political, diplomatic, economic, financial, as well as overt and covert military actions -- are brought to bear on these terrorist networks.

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