Afghanistan forces strike rebel position

Friday, July 25, 2003

KABUL, Afghanistan -- A B-52 bomber and two fighter jets pounded a suspected rebel position after attackers fired two rockets at a U.S. base in northeastern Afghanistan, a military spokesman said Thursday.

No coalition casualties were reported in the fighting Wednesday near the eastern city of Asadabad.

U.S.-led troops were checking the area to see if any insurgents were killed, said U.S. Col. Rodney Davis, a spokesman for coalition forces in Afghanistan.

U.S. troops responded to Wednesday's rocket attack in Asadabad by firing mortars in the direction of the attackers and calling in air support, Davis said.

He said a group of insurgents had been spotted "on the ground, in the open," but it was not clear how large the group was.

In a separate incident, attackers fired a rocket near a U.S. base at Ghecko, northwest of the southern city of Kandahar, Davis said.

Like scores of similar attacks this year, the rocket landed harmlessly and no casualties were reported. It was believed to have been fired from Mirabon, a village to the southeast, Davis said.

The news came as U.S. Central Command chief Gen. John Abizaid was on a visit to Afghanistan. Davis said he arrived Wednesday at Bagram air base, north of the capital, and met Maj. Gen. John R. Vines, the commander of coalition troops in the country.

On Thursday, Abizaid met senior government officials and President Hamid Karzai at his heavily guarded palace in Kabul, said presidential spokesman Khaleeq Ahmed. Neither men spoke to reporters after the meeting.

About 11,500 coalition troops, the bulk of them American, are in Afghanistan hunting down Taliban rebels and their allies. The Taliban were toppled in a U.S.-led war in 2001.

Davis also gave details about an operation, commanded by coalition forces at Bagram, that was launched this week to hunt down insurgents in eastern Afghanistan.

About 1,000 Afghan troops from the new national army were taking part in the mission, dubbed "Warrior Sweep." They moved into Surmad, near the Shah-e-Kot Valley in Paktia province, on Tuesday.

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