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2001

Prelude

9 September Ahmed Shah Massoud, leader of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, is assassinated in a bombing.

11 September Terrorist attacks kill some 3,000 people in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.

12 September In a meeting with his National Security teams, President Bush declares the attacks an act of war against the United States. Osama bin Laden is named as the enemy mastermind.

14 September Congress authorizes the president to "use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks."

19 September The military issues orders for deployment in Afghanistan. The ruling Taliban denies that bin Laden is in their country.

20 September President Bush addresses both houses of Congress and announces war on terrorism.

6 October President Bush warns the Taliban that "time is running out" to give up bin Laden.

War begins

7 October Time's up. U.S. cruise missiles strike targets in Afghanistan. The military phase of Operation Enduring Freedom has begun.

1 November Taliban leader warns that every Afghani is armed and will fight to the death.

9 November The Northern Alliance breaks through Taliban positions at Mazar-i-Sharif. This causes a collapse of Taliban positions in the north. Taliban fighters flee east to Kunduz and south to Kandahar.

11 November The city of Herat falls to the Alliance.
(Photo at right: Special Operations forces on horseback in northern Afghanistan, 12 November 2001)

16 November Mullah Omar rejects peace offer and says Taliban will fight to the death.

17 November Fall of Kabul as month of Ramadan begins.

23 November Taliban gives up Kunduz. Of major cities, only Kandahar remains in Taliban hands.

25 November Marines land in Kandahar. In the north, captured Taliban inmates stage an uprising at a 19th-century fort in Mazar-i-Sharif. The uprising will last six days and require the use of U.S. air strikes to quell. Out of an estimated 400 Taliban, just 83 will survive by taking refuge in basements. In the first moments of the fighting, a CIA agent, Johnny Michael Spann, is killed. Among the anti-Taliban forces (Uzbek forces led by General Abdul Rashid Dostum), 46 were killed and about 200 wounded.

27 November American al-Qaeda member John Walker Lindh captured in Kunduz.

1 December Mullah Omar vows to fight for Kandahar until "Judgment Day".

6-7 December Taliban forces in Kandahar surrender. Fighting is fiercest around the Kandahar airport. Mullah Omar and bin Laden are in hiding. Bin Laden and a thousand followers were believed to have retreated to the mountains south of Jalalabad, on the Pakistan border. The mountains there contain a cave complex, built during the fight against the Soviets, known as Tora Bora.

11 December Anti-Taliban forces advance in the Jalalabad plain, supported by U.S. B-52s.

13 December A video tape is released to the American public of bin Laden praising the September 11th attacks.

(See Soldiers' Tales: 17 December: New York City soldiers in Afghanistan)

18 December Organized resistance at Tora Bora caves comes to an end; American forces commence search and destroy operations. Bin Laden is not found and whether he survived the bombing will remain a mystery.

19 December The last fires extinguished at World Trade Center.

22 December Hamad Karzai forms a new government in Afghanistan.

2002

2 March Two months after Tora Bora was overrun, Operation Anaconda is launched in the Shah-i-Kot, near Gardez in eastern Afghanistan.

To date, it is the heaviest ground fighting in Afghanistan. Eight Americans and three Allied soldiers would be killed in the operation. An estimated 450 enemy were killed as well.

3 March Resistance is unexpectedly heavy in the Shah-i-Kot. U.S. aircraft drop 270 bombs on Taliban and al-Qaeda hideouts. Anaconda now involves more than 1,500 soldiers. In addition to soldiers from the U.S. and Afghanistan, special forces from Australia, Canada, Germany, Denmark, France and Norway take part in the push towards the mountains.

4 March The allied forces grow to 2,000 as U.S. ground forces take the lead. Seven U.S. soldiers are killed after enemy rocket-propelled grenade fire downs an MH-47 Chinook helicopter. (See Death in Takur Ghar).
(Photo at right: A coffin containing a U.S. soldier killed in Afghanistan is taken off a transport jet, 5 March 2002. Frank Augstein, Associated Press)

Photo below: U.S. troops arrive off a CH-47 "Chinook" helicopter on a hill top near Sirkankel, Afghanistan, March 6, 2002 (Warren Zinn / Army Times / Getty Images)

6 March Three hundred additional U.S. troops are called to Shah-i-Kot, making the total U.S. presence to 1,200. Allied soldiers may have killed as many as 800 al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters.

(See these Soldiers' Tales: 7 March: Mortar ping-pong / 11 March: Grenades for fallen buddies)

18 March The U.S. declares Operation Anaconda a success. It is likely, however, that a number of al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters have escaped.

26 August Operation Mountain Sweep, a weeklong operation in southeastern Afghanistan, comes to an end. Weapons and Taliban documents have been captured in largest operation since Anaconda. According to CNN and Time, the operation included five combat air assault missions and three major convoy road marches. There were more than 2,000 coalition forces on the ground including seven companies of Airborne and Ranger Infantry, combat engineers, elements of three aviation battalions and civil affairs officials, and several coalition Special Operations units with Afghan militia.

3 September Speculation continues as to whether bin Laden is dead or alive, and whether elite anti-terrorist forces should be re-deployed outside Afghanistan.

5 November For the first time, the US struck Qaeda members outside Afghanistan. In Yemen, a Hellfire missile blasted a group of six Al Qaeda "suspects". Among those killed was Qaed Salim Sinan al-Harethi. Al-Harethi had been identified by the FBI as a planner in the attack on the USS Cole.