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Coalition Forces Carry Out More Air Attacks in Afghanistan - 2003-02-13

Coalition forces in Afghanistan have carried out more air attacks against suspected hideouts of Taleban fighters.

A spokesman for the U.S. military, Colonel Roger King, says the air raids were carried out in southern Helmand province, where more than two dozen fighters are believed to be hiding in mountain caves.

Colonel King says the fighting in the Baghran valley started on Monday, after U.S. special forces came under heavy fire from suspected members of the ousted Taleban.

He says that around 100 U.S. special forces are hunting down the militants. The special forces are said to have captured 15 rebels since the operation started early this week.

Colonel King denies reports that the air raids against suspected Taleban hideouts have caused civilian casualties. He says the operation is not taking place in a populated area, but on high mountainous ground.

Afghan authorities in Helmand province say the U.S.-led air raids have killed more than a dozen civilians, mainly women and children.

Nearly 13,000 coalition forces, led by the United States, are deployed in Afghanistan to capture remnants of the Taleban forces and the al-Qaida terrorist network.

In recent weeks, the allied forces have come under attack from militants, mainly in southern Afghanistan. U.S. and Afghan officials think the rebels are trying to regroup in the region, where the Taleban had its roots.