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US Forces Kill 19 Militants in Eastern Afghanistan Raids

The U.S. military in Afghanistan says troops conducting several raids targeting al-Qaida, Taliban and Haqqani militant networks have killed 19 fighters. VOA's Barry Newhouse reports from neighboring Pakistan that there are also news reports that the head of British special forces in Afghanistan has resigned after complaining of a lack of equipment.

The U.S. military has been engaged in heavy fighting in eastern Afghanistan for months against groups of Afghan and Pakistani militants as well as foreign fighters.

Lieutenant Commander Walter Matthews says one of Friday's raids targeted a compound of an al-Qaida leader.

"In Dara Noor District, coalition forces targeted a known al-Qaida leader, believed to facilitate the movement of foreign fighters and weapons into Kunar province," he said. "The al-Qaida leader is also believed to be in contact with other militants in the region, coordinating attacks against coalition forces and innocent civilians."

The military did not say if the leader was killed during the raid, but said troops killed one armed woman during the operation.

Local officials say they are looking into reports that some civilians were killed during the operation.

Other operations targeted the so-called Haqqani network, a group of militants led by Jalauddin Haqqani, a long-time Afghan guerrilla commander who U.S. officials have alleged has ties to al-Qaida militants and Pakistani intelligence agents.

Meanwhile, a British newspaper says the head of the country's elite special forces in Afghanistan has abruptly resigned because of a lack of armored vehicles for his troops.

The Daily Telegraph reported Major Sebastian Morely claimed The British Defense Ministry ignored his warnings that the military's lightly armored "Snatch Land Rovers" are too vulnerable for the Afghan mission. The major blamed the deaths of four troops on what he called the ministry's "chronic underinvestment."

The Defense Ministry responded that officials are focused on providing vehicles to protect troops from "ever-shifting threats posed by the enemy."