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Britain Confirms 9 al-Qaida Camps Destroyed - 2001-10-23

Britain's defense secretary says nine of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida training camps have been destroyed inside Afghanistan.

At a news conference in London, British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon has disclosed that U.S. war-planes knocked out the camps, which were suspected of being used for terrorist training. "We believe that nine al-Qaida camps were occupied before the start of the military operation," he said. "I can now tell you that we have successfully put all of these camps out of action."

But defense officials acknowledge that a lot of work on the military front remains and the onset of winter in a month will make land operations more difficult.

However, Admiral Michael Boyce, the British chief of defense staff, says the type of mission carried out by U.S. forces last week on the ground near Kandahar could continue throughout the winter period. He adds that the U.S.-led coalition will still be able to maintain its air superiority during this time as well.

Defense Secretary Hoon later said that no decision has yet been taken on which British ground troops might be deployed as part of what will become land force operations inside Afghanistan. But he confirmed that some of those currently participating in exercises in Oman would likely be utilized and they will be notified soon.