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Pentagon Not Confirming Reports of Taleban Reinforcements - 2001-11-07

The Pentagon says it has no independent information to confirm reports that thousands of volunteers are crossing into Afghanistan to aid the Taleban. But a senior defense official is indicating volunteer forces and supplies flowing cross-border will be intercepted and destroyed if necessary.

News reports say thousands of armed tribesmen are crossing into Afghanistan from Pakistan to join Taleban forces in what they call a holy war.

But the Pentagon says it has no independent information to confirm the reports. Marine Corps four star General Peter Pace is Vice-Chairman of the military's Joint Chiefs of Staff. "I have read the same reports you have read," he said. "I have not seen any intelligence confirmation of that...I'm not saying it's not true. We just don't have confirmation of that."

Pentagon officials say they doubt there have been volunteer movements numbering in the thousands, saying any cross-border activity of that magnitude would have been detected despite the porousness of the Afghan-Pakistan frontier.

Still, a senior defense official tells VOA allied forces will intercept and destroy any reinforcement and re-supply efforts intended to aid the Taleban or the al-Qaida terrorists in Afghanistan.

The same official, speaking on condition of anonymity, notes U.S. air-strikes have been hammering away not only at Taleban and al-Qaida troops but also supply depots, even those hidden away in caves.

This official predicts the combination of such strikes plus an effective border blockade will soon leave the Taleban and al-Qaida short of critical supplies while the United States and its allies continue to provide weapons, ammunition, food and other supplies to opposition forces.

As this official puts it, "this winter will be a lot colder for the Taleban than for the forces we are supporting."