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US Claims Air Supremacy Over Afghanistan - 2001-10-09

The Pentagon claims U.S. forces have established air supremacy over Afghanistan, enabling fighters and bombers to strike military and suspected terrorist targets at will.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says initial U.S. strikes against airfields, air defenses, and other targets have been so successful, American aircraft no longer face any serious threats. "We believe we are now able to carry out strikes more or less around the clock as we wish," he said.

At a Pentagon briefing, Mr. Rumsfeld and General Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, showed photographs of a damaged airfield, a destroyed surface to air missile site and a bombed-out terrorist training camp.

Mr. Rumsfeld says the military campaign against the al-Qaida terrorist network and its supporters in the ruling Taleban is progressing well. But he again declined to discuss whether U.S. ground troops may be poised to enter Afghanistan.

The Defense Secretary says there have been no U.S. casualties in the military actions. As for the deaths of four Afghan civilians at a U.N. compound in Kabul, Mr. Rumsfeld says he has no information and cannot tell whether they may have been killed by U.S. weapons or by munitions fired from the ground.

He voices regret over the loss of life. But Mr. Rumsfeld recalls the thousands killed in last month's terrorist strikes on New York and Washington. He says innocent lives are still at risk until terrorists have been dealt with. He says there is no easy way to root out terrorist networks.