- The Washington Times - Monday, December 31, 2001

ASSOCIATED PRESS
U.S. Army soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division will replace Marines at a base in southern Afghanistan, a Pentagon spokesman said yesterday.
The Marines will hand over responsibility for overseeing a group of suspected Taliban and al Qaeda fighters at the Kandahar base that grew to 139 detainees yesterday.
Their replacement will give the Marines "the opportunity to prepare for future missions," said Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Mike Humm. Lt. Col. Humm said he could not say when the transfer would be complete. Defense officials have said preparations for the change began Friday.
The Army soldiers will continue "combat operations" to defeat remaining Taliban and al Qaeda fighters, and help guard and process detainees being held at the Kandahar base, Lt. Col. Humm said.
Fourteen new prisoners have arrived at the base, Lt. Col. Humm said yesterday. The new detainees came from the northern Afghan town of Shibergan, where U.S. forces are sorting through scores of suspected Taliban or al Qaeda forces captured by Afghan forces.
The United States is taking those who officials believe might have useful information about Osama bin Laden's terrorist network or who could be charged with terrorism or war crimes.
U.S. forces have been moving batches of detainees from Shibergan to Kandahar since Friday. The prisoners will be questioned further at the southern Afghanistan base by interrogators from the U.S. military, the FBI and the CIA.
The facility at Kandahar, which was built to hold several hundred prisoners, had 139 yesterday, Lt. Col. Humm said. That brought the total under U.S. control to 150, including eight aboard the USS Peleliu in the Arabian Sea. U.S. forces also are holding two prisoners at the Bagram air base north of Kabul and one in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif.
An undetermined number of those prisoners eventually will be sent to the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Construction of facilities for the prisoners there is expected to take several weeks.

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