- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 20, 2003

WASHINGTON, March 20 (UPI) — Several thousand troops from the 82nd Airborne began a major assault operation against al-Qaida targets southeast of Kandahar, Afghanistan, according to U.S. Central Command.

The operation, which is called "Valiant Strike" and involves a brigade-sized task force with Chinooks and Black Hawk helicopters, began at 6 a.m. Thursday local time

The assault began almost simultaneously with the opening salvo in the U.S. war in Iraq, possibly timed to demonstrate that the Pentagon will not ease its global war on terrorism as it takes on Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

The task force is comprised of the "White Devils," the 504th parachute infantry regiment of the 82nd airborne division.

Kandahar was the heartland of the ousted Taliban government.

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