U.S. strikes at terrorist targets in Afghanistan

The Bush administration on Sunday launched what promises to be a long and difficult military campaign against Afghanistan's ruling Taliban forces, which have long supported the al Queda terrorist network believed responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and the Pentagon.

The air strikes by U.S. and British forces represented the first military action in what Bush said would be a "sustained, comprehensive and relentless" operation to root out and destroy terrorist networks. In an address to the nation on Sunday, Bush emphasized the contributions of more than 40 nations in the fight against terrorism.

"We are supported by the collective will of the world," he said.

In addition to striking Taliban military targets, two Air Force C-17 cargo planes dropped food and medical supplies in an effort to win the support of the Afghan people, who have lived through two decades of inter-tribal warfare and oppression. Many Afghans do not support the Taliban forces that now rule Afghanistan.

A key goal in Sunday's strikes was to destroy Taliban air defenses to facilitate both the military campaign against the al Queda network and to provide additional humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told reporters in a Pentagon briefing.

"While our raids today focus on the Taliban and the foreign terrorists in Afghanistan, our aim remains much broader," Rumsfeld said. "Our objective is to defeat those who use terrorism, and those that house or support them." Rumsfeld also stressed that Sunday's attack was the beginning of what would necessarily be a long campaign.

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