U.S. Asks Turkey For Troops

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U.S. Asks Turkey For Troops

Turkish Forces Would Train Anti-Taliban Soldiers

Posted: 7:58 a.m. EST October 31, 2001 Updated: 11:58 a.m. EST October 31, 2001

The United States on Wednesday asked Turkey to deploy as many as 50 troops to northern Afghanistan to help train anti-Taliban forces, The Associated Press reported.

Media reports in Turkey indicate that the United States asked the country for a unit of officers to train Northern Alliance fighters away from Afghanistan's conflict zone, according to the report. The U.S. request initially asked for military advisers, with troops to follow, CNN reported. Turkish officials said in the past they would lend military forces, including troops, to the anti-terrorism coalition. But Turkish troops, they said, would not take part in combat missions.

Quick to condemn the Taliban after the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States, Turkey indicated a willingness to train anti-Taliban troops, but it wasn't clear whether the agreed-upon training would be in Afghanistan or another country.

Turkey, NATO's only Muslim member, has had close contacts with Taliban opposition groups, especially the Northern Alliance.

Turkish special forces have fought Kurdish rebels in southeast Turkey for 15 years on mountainous terrain similar to that of Afghanistan.

Taliban Reports More Casualties After Fierce Raids There are more claims of civilian casualties from Taliban officials Wednesday.

The claims came as U.S. jets stage fierce attacks on several key areas.

Witnesses said the latest U.S. airstrikes on Afghanistan badly damaged a hospital in the southern city of Kandahar.

The Taliban ambassador to Pakistan claimed U.S. bombs hit the clinic, and that "numerous people" were killed. He said that a total of 1,500 people have died in the U.S.-led air campaign, now in its fourth week. Those claims can't be verified.

A Taliban doctor said 15 people were killed and more than two dozen others severely hurt in Wednesday's attacks.

Foreign journalists taken to the site said they saw some injured people but no bodies. It was the first Taliban-escorted tour in the city since the U.S.-led air raids started Oct. 7.

Meanwhile, explosions shook the strategic northern city of Mazar-e Sharif on Wednesday as jets targeted areas near the Taliban front lines in coordination with anti-Taliban forces.

News reports from the region said U.S. planes also hit Kandahar, targeting the airport and military installations.

Anti-Taliban Forces Deploy Best Troops The anti-Taliban Northern Alliance deployed hundreds of its best troops Wednesday -- a sign the alliance may be getting ready for an assault. A Taliban opposition leader said the coordination will be stepped up in advance of what he said will be a major offensive.

On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld acknowledged for the first time that U.S. military personnel are on the ground in Afghanistan, helping coordinate the airstrikes.

Rumsfeld confirmed that a "modest" number of U.S. troops are acting in what he said is a liaison role with opposition forces in Afghanistan. He said that means the U.S. troops are helping to coordinate the resupply of opposition forces, as well as helping pinpoint targets for U.S. bombers.

Rear Adm. John Stufflebeem said there are a number of benefits from the deployment. He said, for one thing, U.S. forces will be able to get a view of the battlefield from the ground. And he said better targeting information will help prevent U.S. warplanes from inadvertently hitting civilian areas.

Stufflebeem is deputy director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He dismissed criticism that the U.S. military campaign is not making progress. He said the American public can be confident the military is not doing things "blindly" or "haphazardly."

Copyright 2001 by Channel2000.com.

-- PHO (owennos@bigfoot.com), October 31, 2001

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