The Philadelphia Inquirer
November 3, 2001
U.S. pounds Taliban on
bombers struck the front line, Bush declared no pause for Ramadan. A U.S.
crew was saved after its copter crashed.
War With Terror
Afghanistan - U.S. heavy bombers and fighters pummeled Taliban positions
on the front line north of Kabul yesterday, abandoning restraint on the
Muslim holy day that had kept previous Fridays relatively free of air
Bush said yesterday that the air war would not pause during Ramadan, the
Muslim month of daytime fasting that begins Nov. 17. "The enemy won't
rest during Ramadan and neither will we," he said at the White House.
B-52s, disgorging bombs by the bellyful, and wasplike jet fighters began
hitting targets before dawn yesterday, sending thunderous explosions
across the Shamali Plain just as mullahs were calling Muslims to early
U.S. helicopter crashed in bad weather yesterday afternoon in Afghanistan,
injuring four crew members. A second helicopter was called in and
evacuated the crew.
injured crew members were receiving medical treatment for their wounds,
which are not life-threatening, according to the Pentagon.
helicopter was severely damaged and later destroyed by F-14 Tomcats from
the USS Theodore Roosevelt.
yesterday, Rear Adm. John D. Stufflebeem, deputy director of operations
for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a Pentagon briefing that freezing
rain had hampered efforts to drop special forces into northern Afghanistan
by helicopter. The forces are to work with groups opposed to the Taliban.
the day, planes continued striking sites a few miles south of the village
of Rabat and the adjacent district of Bagram, where anti-Taliban
guerrillas of the Northern Alliance, also known as the United Front, are
squared off across an abandoned airport from deeply entrenched Taliban
positions. The front line, 25 miles north of Kabul, has been stationary
for more than two years.
aircraft, barely detectable with the sun overhead except for their roar,
repeatedly hit targets such as Moshin Ab, a village on the main highway to
Kabul where guerrillas said the Taliban had a headquarters.
towering gray dust clouds dissipated from the first wave of bombs, a lone
B-52, its route marked by a vapor trail, cut loose a load of smaller bombs
that spread out over several hundred yards of Moshin Ab, setting off a
series of blasts.
senior defense official in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity,
said that about 50 U.S. jet fighters and long-range bombers conducted air
strikes in Afghanistan yesterday, mostly around Kabul. Poor weather north
of the Hindu Kush mountains prevented raids there.
commanders want to supplement the small number of American commandos
coordinating airdrops of ammunition to Northern Alliance guerrillas and
guiding air strikes against the Taliban militia and forces loyal to Osama
of the Northern Alliance, a loose and fragile coalition of ethnic and
political groups opposed to the Taliban regime, appeared no closer to
launching a ground assault on the front lines. The only mobilized troops
were those who climbed to high positions to watch the daylong air assault.
is no coordination between us and the American air force," said
Alokzay Ahmadi, a midlevel commander who stood on a rooftop and identified
the targets on a well-thumbed topographical map. "The Americans bomb
the places they want, so I can't tell you the results of their work."
American bombing campaign against the Taliban began Oct. 7. For the last
two weeks, the air strikes have focused on frontline Taliban positions
around Kabul and other strongholds.
the first bombing runs over front lines nearly two weeks ago, in which
some planes dived in so low that they had to evade heat-seeking missiles,
the bombers in recent days have remained at high altitudes, well beyond
the range of Taliban antiaircraft fire.
Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld departed yesterday for Moscow for talks on
Afghanistan, arms control and other issues with his Russian counterpart,
Sergei Ivanov. He is then to visit Uzbekistan, Pakistan and India for
talks on shoring up those countries' support for the U.S.-led
will be his second visit to Uzbekistan, where there are about 2,000 U.S.
troops, including soldiers of the Army's 10th Mountain Division.
Pakistan, he is expected to meet with Gen. Pervez Musharraf, the country's
military ruler, who has cooperated with the U.S. antiterrorism war even
though some Pakistanis sympathize with the Taliban.
New Delhi, Rumsfeld is expected to work to complete a military cooperation
agreement under which the Indian navy would support U.S. naval forces
involved in the Afghanistan operation.
officials in Islamabad said they had no information on reports that
Taliban forces clashed with supporters of an influential Pashtun leader
who had slipped back into Afghanistan to rally support for political
alternatives to Taliban rule.
Taliban claimed tribal leader Hamid Karzai had escaped but 25 of his
supporters were captured and were facing execution. Karzai's family in
Pakistan affirmed the clash occurred and said he was safe.
Washington, a senior U.S. intelligence official said Karzai's group was
attacked by Arab fighters loyal to bin Laden who form a sort of Praetorian
guard for the Taliban leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar.
Pentagon has kept tight control over information about the war. For
example, the top Marine officer in the South Asia region said yesterday he
could not disclose basic details of a recovery operation of an Army Ranger
helicopter in Pakistan two weeks ago. Col. Tom Waldhauser, who commands
the 15th Marine Expeditionary Force aboard amphibious assault ships in the
north Arabian Sea, cited "sensitivities better left unspoken"
when speaking to reporters aboard the USS Peleliu.
helicopter crashed, killing two Americans, while on a mission in Pakistan
supporting a raid by American special forces in Afghanistan. Marines who
recovered the helicopter came under fire in Pakistan, abandoned the
recovery, and then completed it on another attempt. Waldhauser said the
Marines "performed with quiet confidence and professionalism and were
able to react to a very dynamic situation almost in a routine
S. Landay contributed to this story.