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Tuesday, 19 March, 2002, 06:14 GMT
Bush warns of battles ahead
Canadian soldier in Afghanistan
More fighting can be expected, the Pentagon says
The United States military has "a lot more fighting to do" in Afghanistan, President George Bush has said.

The enemy were relentless killers, but the US would be more relentless, he said.

President Bush
President Bush warned that the Taleban fighters were relentless
Earlier, US commanders had announced the end of the 17-day Operation Anaconda - an assault on al-Qaeda and Taleban fighters in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan.

Mr Bush thanked the US troops who took part in the battle but said he was sure that more fighting would be necessary.

Rebel forces had even sought to reinforce their comrades during the most intense fighting, he said.

"These are killers, they hate America, they are relentless. But so are we, and we will be more relentless than they are."

Britain has also signalled there will be further fighting in Afghanistan.

Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon has announced that the government will be sending 1,700 soldiers to join the fight against remaining al-Qaeda and Taleban forces.

Future operations are likely to be the same size as Anaconda

General Tommy Franks
In a separate development, US officials said American forces killed 16 people on Monday in an attack on three vehicles thought to be carrying fleeing al-Qaeda fighters in eastern Afghanistan.

One person was wounded and another captured, in the attack on the convoy which took place on Sunday, 70 kilometres (45 miles) south-west of Gardez.

Continued threat

Speaking to journalists at Bagram airbase on the outskirts of the Afghan capital, Kabul, General Tommy Franks said the threat of more al-Qaeda and Taleban attacks remained.

"It is possible for al-Qaeda and Taleban fighters to regroup in various parts of Afghanistan and that is why we are not saying that this is over. I suspect that this kind of operation could happen again," he said.

General Tommy Franks awards the Bronze Star
General Franks awarded the Bronze Star to four servicemen

US officials estimate 500 fighters have been killed during the offensive in the Shah-i-Kot valley and Arma mountains, south of Gardez. But local Afghan commanders have suggested that many of the guerrillas may have escaped into Pakistan.

About 2,000 American and Afghan government soldiers have taken part in the two-week Operation Anaconda. At least 15 of them are thought to have died.

The most intense fighting, the largest US-led offensive in the Afghan war, ended last Wednesday.

Since then, Canadian and US soldiers have been working to flush out any remaining fighters.

"You did it on time, you did it with a good plan, you did it with violent execution, you did it taking care of one another," General Franks told troops at a ceremony where he awarded the Bronze Star to four US servicemen who took part in the operation.

See also:

13 Mar 02 | South Asia
Eyewitness: Discontent in Gardez
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