Inside Tora Bora: The Final Hours?

Osama bin Laden's forces make a last stand in the White Mountains. Now U.S. special-operations troops aim to bring the fighting to a close

LAURA J. WINTER/AP

Wary Alliance fighters enter an al-Quaeda cave near Tora Bora

The 12 bearded soldiers making their way up a pass in the White Mountains of Tora Bora were decked out in flat-topped Afghan caps and flowing shalwar kameezes. From a distance only one detail gave them away as Americans. Afghan alliance fighters — dedicated but largely untrained — walk upright, making themselves easy targets for enemy fire. The Americans were shimmying up the hill on their bellies.

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It's no secret that American special-operations forces have been in Afghanistan, but late last week they quietly made their way to Tora Bora, to the...

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