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Senior U.S. official: Special forces in Afghan operations

September 28, 2001 Posted: 3:31 p.m. EDT (1931 GMT)

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. and British elite forces have conducted operations within Afghanistan, a senior Bush administration official told CNN on Friday.

The Special Operations forces have been in Afghanistan and the region within the past several days, a White House source said.

The official declined to comment on Pakistani media reports that the soldiers were looking for suspected terrorist ringleader Osama bin Laden.

Such operations, customary with major military deployments like the one in the region, help gather information about terrain and possible airstrike targets, the source said. (Full story)

Reports of the operations first appeared in Pakistani newspapers and, this morning, in USA Today.

Latest developments

* Meanwhile, in the Afghan city of Kandahar, Taliban officials rejected pleas from visiting Pakistani dignitaries to hand over bin Laden and free eight international aid workers, according to Taliban representatives. (Full story)

* In London, authorities were holding Algerian pilot Lotfi Raissi, whom they accuse of training four hijacking suspects believed to have been involved in the September 11 terror attacks in New York and Washington. (Full story)

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* In Washington, President Bush met Friday with King Abdullah II of Jordan in an effort to strengthen an international coalition against terrorism. Abdullah II, ruler of a moderate Middle Eastern state between Israel and Syria, is the first Arab head of state to visit the White House since the terror attacks. (Full story)

* President Bush is considering an economic aid package that offers financial relief to U.S. workers that have lost jobs as a result of the terror attacks, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Friday. Travel-related industries have been especially hard hit, including airline companies, which have laid off tens of thousands in recent weeks.

* The Rev. Jesse Jackson said his invitation from the Taliban to visit Afghanistan was a sign the regime was leaning toward a dialogue. Jackson has not ruled out a visit but said he was "inclined" toward not going. He said the Taliban will either choose handing Osama bin Laden to the world court or "choose world war."

* In Afghanistan, several hundred Taliban soldiers massed along a battle line about 31 miles (50 km) north of Kabul, the rebel Northern Alliance said Friday. The alliance massed troops in the area in response to the buildup, according to rebel commanders. No fighting was reported.

* The U.N. Security Council, with the United States abstaining, agreed to lift largely symbolic sanctions against Sudan, imposed in 1996 to try to force the African nation to hand over suspects involved in an assassination attempt against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. (Full story)

* The FBI is appealing to the public for information on the 19 men suspected in the hijackings of the four flights that crashed September 11. In hopes of jogging someone's memory, the agency Thursday released photos of the men and any aliases they may have used. (Full story)

* In Illinois and Tennessee, federal agents Friday arrested the last two of 20 Middle Eastern men they suspect of fraudulently obtaining licenses to truck hazardous materials.

* In New York, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said Friday that his plan to delay the inauguration of his successor until April was designed to please both sides in the debate over whether he should stay on as mayor after his term runs out. He cannot serve a third consecutive term, despite calls to do so. (Full story)

* Nearly two-thirds of U.S. respondents to a CNN/Time poll released Friday favor the use of ground troops in Afghanistan to carry out President Bush's war on terrorism. Most expected a U.S. victory but with many casualties and the high risk of more terror attacks in the United States. (Full story)

* U.S. stock investors responded warmly to better-than-expected economic numbers, finding a good excuse to extend the previous day's rally, even in the face of long-term instability. (Full story)


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