St. Petersburg Times Online: World&Nation
TampaBay.com
Place an Ad Calendars Classified Forums Sports Weather
tampabay.com
Back
Print story Subscribe to the Times

Fighting terror

Operation Valiant Strike rounds up cache of weapons

©Associated Press
March 24, 2003

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- Helicopters thundered over mountain villages, disgorging soldiers to search mud-brick houses as U.S.-led forces pressed their hunt for al-Qaida remnants in Afghanistan this week.

"Don't let them bring (the fight) to you, you bring it to them," Lt. Col. Charlie Flynn of the 82nd Airborne Division's 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment told his troops as the new operation in the hunt for terrorists began in Afghanistan's rugged Sami Ghar mountains Thursday.

The troops were accompanied by pool reporters, but they were not allowed to file dispatches until Sunday.

About 600 U.S. troops assisted by Romanian infantry and Afghan fighters launched Operation Valiant Strike on Thursday just as U.S. forces began airstrikes on Baghdad. Commanders said the timing was coincidence.

Chinook and Black Hawk transport helicopters, under escort from Apache helicopter gunships, zoomed into the area, believed to be a haven for members of the former Taliban regime ousted by U.S. troops in late 2001.

Female soldiers, with help from Afghan interpreters, frisked village women. Other troops found and removed small arms, mine stashes and rocket-propelled grenades from walled compounds and houses.

Troops chased down two men who ran as U.S. forces arrived, but found they were shepherds who said they were spooked by the din of Apaches roaring overhead. They were let go.

When asked about small arms found in his home, shepherd Akter Mohammad, 40, said he needed guns to protect his sheep from wolves. The air assault scared him, making him think the soldiers were going to take away his family.

"If they are coming to bring peace in Afghanistan, we are happy," Mohammad said.

Chinooks dropped off troops in a dried-up riverbed, and several soldiers walked into the village of Narai for a "soft breach" that involved meeting with local elders and explaining the mission before conducting a sweep.

Since the beginning of the raids, at least 13 people have been detained. Afghan troops traded fire with enemy fighters on Saturday, but U.S. troops have encountered no resistance.

U.S. forces found one of the largest weapons caches in months Saturday, consisting of hundreds of rockets, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades.

"The difficult thing about missions like this is not knowing who's who. Who is left over from the Taliban?" 1st Sgt. Craig Pinkley said. "The best part is finding a big cache like this -- it prevents future attacks."

18 Guantanamo prisoners released; 30 more arrive

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Several Afghans who had been held at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay were released because they were no longer considered a terrorist threat, officials said Sunday.

Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Barbara Burfeind said 18 prisoners had left the base on Friday to be released. About 30 new prisoners were taken to America's high-security island prison in Cuba on Sunday, bringing the number of inmates there to about 660, Burfeind said.

Print story Subscribe to the Times

Back to World & National news
Back to Top

© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111
 
Special Links
Susan Taylor Martin


From the Times wire desk
  • Iraq: Marchers rally to support U.S. troops
  • Iraq: Churches turn to prayers amid war
  • Iraq: Reports: Hussein is likely still alive
  • Iraq: Iraq's oil industry will need postwar repairs
  • Iraq: Arabs heartened to see U.S. vulnerability on TV
  • Iraq: Missiles land in Turkey; no one hurt
  • Iraq: President: Treat our prisoners humanely
  • Iraq: U.S. presses POWs for information on chemical weapons
  • Iraq: Networks struggle over use of video
  • Iraq: Uniform at door breaks hearts of loved ones
  • Iraq: Mother says she saw her captive son on Iraqi TV
  • Iraq: British TV reporter believed dead
  • Iraq: Patriot missile shoots down British fighter jet, killing 2
  • Iraq: Prisoner of war regulations
  • Dispatch from the 101st: Soldiers feel shock, anger at one of their own
  • ighting terror: Copter crash kills 6
  • ighting terror: Operation Valiant Strike rounds up cache of weapons
  • World in brief: Turnout large in vote on Chechen constitution

  • From the AP
    national wire
    From the AP
    world desk