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SLUG: 2-287609 Afghan / Pentagon (L)
DATE:
NOTE NUMBER:

DATE= 3/15/02

TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT

TITLE= AFGHAN/PENTAGON (L ONLY)

NUMBER=2-287609

BYLINE= ALEX BELIDA

DATELINE= PENTAGON

CONTENT=

INTRO: Operation Anaconda against al-Qaida and Taleban hold-outs in mountainous eastern Afghanistan is virtually over. But as V-O-A Correspondent Alex Belida reports from the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has sounded an ominous warning about the continuing threat posed by terrorists both in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

TEXT: Mr. Rumsfeld says the fighting is winding down and has moved into what he calls the exploitation phase.

///RUMSFELD ACTUALITY///

Coalition forces are for the most part in a exploitation phase, doing the difficult work of searching caves and clearing areas where the battles and fighting have taken place.

///END ACTUALITY///

Mr. Rumsfeld tells Pentagon reporters U-S and coalition troops now numbering fewer than one thousand are finding weapons, ammunition and intelligence information.

He gives no details. But the Defense Secretary says some al-Qaida and Taleban may have escaped from the battle area south of Gardez.

He is warning these and other hold-outs, both inside Afghanistan and in neighboring countries, still pose a threat.

///RUMSFELD ACTUALITY///

They are determined to attack U-S military forces and interests in Afghanistan and elsewhere to attempt to show their strength.

///END ACTUALITY///

U-S forces have taken into custody more than 500 al-Qaida and Taleban detainees since launching military operations in Afghanistan last October.

Some are being held in Afghanistan, others at a special detention facility at the U-S Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

Mr. Rumsfeld says officials have now finished writing the rules for special military tribunals that could be used to try some of the detainees.

///RUMSFELD ACTUALITY///

We're comfortable that it will produce a just, fair, balanced outcome.

///END ACTUALITY///

But the Defense Secretary refuses to give any details. He says officials plan to eventually release a package of information that will explain the procedures. (Signed)

NEB/BEL/KBK



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