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Blair: Britain Providing Military Support for Strikes - 2001-10-08


British Prime Minister Tony Blair says his country is providing military support to the United States in its strike against targets of the ruling Taleban in Afghanistan.

Mr. Blair appeared on British television and radio late Sunday to announce that his country's armed forces is participating in the U.S.-led attack against Afghanistan's Taleban and the suspected terrorists they are protecting.

"This military plan has been put together, mindful of our determination to do all we humanly can to avoid civilian casualties," said the prime minister. "I cannot disclose, obviously, how long this action will last, but we will act with reason and resolve."

Mr. Blair says that Britain got a request last Wednesday from the United States for three aspects of military cooperation, and he had given his approval.

"They include the base at Diego Garcia, reconnaissance and other aircraft, and missile-firing submarines," he said. "The missile-firing submarines are in use tonight. The air assets will be available for use in the coming days."

Prime Minister Blair said that while the United States is providing the bulk of the military forces in the operation, Australia, Canada, France and Germany have also committed themselves to participating.

Mr. Blair said that besides the military action, Britain has joined a coalition of nations that is providing humanitarian relief to Afghan refugees. He said that effort is just as vital as the military alliance to relieve "the appalling suffering" of the Afghan people.

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