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Rumsfeld: Initial Airstrikes Successful - 2001-10-08

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says the initial airstrikes carried out by U.S. and British forces against military and terrorist targets in Afghanistan were very successful.

Pentagon officials are still waiting for detailed assessments of Sunday's airstrikes. But Defense Secretary Rumsfeld says his impression is that the strikes were successful.

Rejecting Taleban claims of civilian casualties, Mr. Rumsfeld stresses all the targets that were hit were military in nature. "There were two or three dozen and they were essentially terrorist training camps. They were airfields, military aircraft, air defense radars, surface-to-air missiles and typical military targets," he said.

Mr. Rumsfeld says none of the Taleban's small air force planes managed to take off ahead of or during the attacks. But he says Taleban surface-to-air missiles were fired at the attacking allied aircraft. He says no aircraft was hit or damaged.

In addition to the air-strikes, two giant U.S. cargo planes dropped food supplies sufficient for nearly 40,000 displaced people. Mr. Rumsfeld says the people were at risk of starvation in remote parts of the country.

Colonel Robert Allardice, director of Air Force airdrop operations for the mission, tells reporters by telephone from Germany it was a success. "I think it is safe to say this mission was a complete success and served to be a first installment on the President's promise to deliver $320 million of aid to the Afghan people," he said.

The air-dropped items are bright yellow packets known as Humanitarian Daily Rations. They include such meals as beans and rice in a tomato sauce, lentil stew, plus biscuits or crackers, and a fruit bar.

There are no animal products or alcohol-based ingredients. Defense officials say this is to provide the widest possible acceptance by persons with diverse religious and dietary restrictions.