Air Strikes Claim Taliban, Al Qaeda Leaders

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 15, 2001 -- U.S. air strikes in Afghanistan during the past several days targeted upper- level Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders and have achieved some success, a senior DoD official said.

Pentagon spokesperson Victoria Clarke told reporters today that raids Tuesday on a building near the Afghan capital of Kabul and Wednesday on a building in Kandahar killed "some numbers" of Taliban and Al Qaeda's senior leadership. She said anti-terrorist intelligence sources provided information used to conduct the strikes.

There is "no evidence" that Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar or Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden were present at either raid site, she noted. Asked about the likelihood of reducing the U.S.-coalition Afghan air campaign during the upcoming Muslim observance of Ramadan, Clarke replied: "We are very sensitive to Muslim concerns about Ramadan." However, she noted, "History has been filled with example, after example, after example of Muslims fighting during Ramadan."

The terrorists, Clarke pointed out, "are not sitting back and taking a break, and, nor will we." Eight humanitarian aid workers, including two Americans, who'd been detained by the Taliban were released yesterday, Clarke said. The eight were picked up by U.S. special operations troops southwest of Kabul and flown out of the country. They are to undergo medical exams and debriefings, perhaps in Germany, she said.