In the north-east of Afghanistan, U.S. and British special operations troops are engaging with Taliban and al Qaeda fighters. Despite using powerful bombs and cutting-edge weapons, the allies are suffering big casualties.
Nine American servicemen have been killed and 40 injured in an operation codenamed Anaconda. These are the heaviest losses the U.S. Army has suffered during the entire operation in Afghanistan. George Bush expressed regret about the dead soldiers, yet said he was determined to complete the mission. The primary objective is to destroy about 5,000 Taliban and al Qaeda fighters currently hiding near a town of Gardez in the Paktiyah province. Several U.S. Army mobile units are operating in the area together with local field commanders reporting to the interim administration of Afghanistan.
In the meanwhile, resistance offered by the militants is so fierce that the American Command decided to stop the advance of ground units, making aviation the primary strike force. In the last three days, USAF planes have pounded enemy entrenchments with 350 bombs, including thermobaric ones, specially developed to destroy underground bunkers.
According to Pentagon officials, operation Anaconda will continue until all militants surrender or get killed.
The remarks from the Pope came as "a very strong step towards degradation," "given the rather massive nature of homosexuality" among the Catholic clergy.