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Friday, 2 November, 2001, 19:23 GMT
Weather stymies US special forces
Old man mourns his dead in village of Choker Kariz
The Taleban showed reporters another ruined village
Efforts over the past 24 hours to deploy another group of US special forces have been thwarted by the weather, the Pentagon has said.

Rear Admiral John Stufflebeem of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said freezing rain made it impossible to use helicopters to insert the troops.

On Friday, American B-52 bombers resumed bombing Taleban front lines north of the Afghan capital Kabul in what opposition forces described as one of the fiercest bombardments yet.

The heavy bombers struck at least twice at the strategic Tutakhan hills, where entrenched Taleban fighters have made the opposition-held Bagram air base unuseable.

They (cluster bombs) are being used on front-line al-Qaeda and Taleban troops to try to kill them, to be perfectly blunt

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld

Columns of dust and smoke billowed into the sky, and the blast from the exploding bombs shook buildings some distance away from the front line.

The White House earlier confirmed that bombing would not be suspended during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins in mid-November.

Several Islamic leaders had voiced fears that a continuation of the raids during Ramadan - a month-long period of fasting for Muslims around the world - could cause major unrest in their countries.

  • B-52s bomb Taleban front lines north of Kabul
  • Raids on Taleban positions around Bagram airport, north of Kabul
  • Taleban base reported hit at Karabagh
  • Taleban claim to capture 25 rebels near Kandahar
  • US National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice said on Thursday that the US "could not afford" to pause for Ramadan.

    A BBC correspondent in northern Afghanistan said that opposition commanders were pleased to hear that the US planned to continue its campaign.

    The Northern Alliance has said it is ready for the next phase, and now has its troops and munitions in place. All that remains is the order to push forward from its defence minister, General Muhammed Fahim.

    America is also moving to step up its propaganda war against the Taleban with plans to launch a "Radio Free Afghanistan".

    Launch new window : Detailed map
    Click here for a detailed map of the strikes so far

    A committee of the House of Representatives approved legislation for the radio service which will broadcast in local languages to explain America's war goals.

    Northern Alliance fighters watch bombs exploding
    Smart weapons give way to carpet bombing

    The radio initiative, which will cost about $20m, is accompanied by a decision to speed up the flow of information between the combat zone and the West.

    Along with Britain, the US is setting up a rapid-reaction media centre in Pakistan in a bid to counter enemy propaganda more efficiently.

    The military campaign is being waged against Osama Bin Laden, the man suspected of masterminding the 11 September terror attacks on the US, and the Taleban regime in Afghanistan which is harbouring him.

    The Pentagon has confirmed it is preparing to substantially increase the number of troops on the ground in Afghanistan - currently estimated to be fewer than 100.

    "I want to see the number of teams go up by three or four times as soon as possible," said Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

    Village destroyed

    The BBC's Simon Ingram, taken by the Taleban to visit the Kandahar area, saw a village of no obvious military value that had been flattened in an air raid.

    "What we found was a scene of total destruction. A number of houses, about 40 or 50 in all, completely destroyed," he reported from Choker Kariz.

    Local people said up to 90 people had been killed and the attack appeared to have been "a very serious blunder on the part of the United States", said our correspondent.

    The BBC's Jonathan Charles
    "It is not just the enemy the Americans are frightening"
    Northern Alliance spokesman, Haroun Amin
    says if they are attacked by the Taleban during Ramadan, they will hit back
    Defence secretary, Geoff Hoon
    "It has always been an option for us to put people on the ground.. those options are continuing to be looked at"
    See also:

    02 Nov 01 | South Asia
    Taleban hunt key rebel leader
    01 Nov 01 | UK Politics
    Media war goes to Pakistan
    01 Nov 01 | Americas
    Profile: B-52 bomber
    01 Nov 01 | South Asia
    UN warns of aid shortfall
    02 Nov 01 | Europe
    Turkey rejects Ramadan pause
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