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Report: N. Alliance Takes Mazar-e Sharif

Anti-Taliban Army Claims City Is Abandoned

Posted: 8:23 a.m. EST November 9, 2001

Anti-Taliban forces on Friday claimed they broke Taliban defenses and entered the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e Sharif.

A Northern Alliance spokesman said it appears that the Taliban abandoned the city and are retreating. "We are moving through one neighborhood at a time," he said.

The city has critical strategic importance in the military campaign against the Taliban. U.S. airstrikes have targeted Taliban frontline positions around Mazar-e Sharif for weeks to set up an offensive by the Northern Alliance, the Taliban's largest opposition group.

The claims, made by the Northern Alliance spokesman, have not been confirmed by the Pentagon.

"What we've seen is encouraging. We can say no more than that," said Victoria Clarke, Pentagon spokeswoman.

A U.S. official who asked to remain unidentified confirmed the anti-Taliban forces have entered the city and that the Taliban are retreating, The Associated Press reported.

He said there's still some fighting in the city but that the Taliban are "fleeing the city in droves" and heading toward Kabul.

Taliban opposition forces had hoped for an uprising by the city's residents to avoid bloody, house-to-house fighting.

Mazar-e Sharif has strategic importance because of its proximity to Uzbekistan to Afghanistan's north. If American-friendly forces were to take the city, it would break the Taliban's resupply line and set up a major "land bridge," as Pentagon officials call it, to American reinforcements in Uzbekistan.

The city also is the site of a former Soviet military base.

Uzbekistan lent its bases to American forces on noncombat missions, such as resupply, humanitarian aid and search-and-rescue.

A commander for the anti-Taliban force said the ruling militia had beefed up its front line with about 2,000 troops, mostly Arab and Pakistani volunteers. The commander said the Taliban also have brought in ammunition, tanks and other vehicles.

For the first time in days, Taliban anti-aircraft fire was seen targeting U.S. jets earlier Friday.

U.S. bombs also struck Kandahar, the southern city that is the Taliban's headquarters.

Japan Joins War Effort Japan is pushing back ghosts of its military past and sending warships into action for the first time since World War II, The Associated Press reported.

Three ships are on their way to the Indian Ocean to help in the U.S.-led war effort. They'll be scouting sea lanes and gathering intelligence.

The mission is based on a new Japanese law that allows the country's armed forces to provide noncombat support overseas.

Japan is passionate about its post-war pacifist constitution.

Written by U.S. officials after World War II, the constitution doesn't allow the use of force in international conflicts. But following the terror attacks in the United States, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi proposed what he called "rear-area support." Polls show most Japanese back him.

Copyright 2001 by The Associated Press contributed to this report.

-- PHO (, November 09, 2001


This could be a quantum jump forward for all the obvious military reasons -- PLUS -- creating the ability to accelerate humanitarian efforts.

Lets hope!!


-- Jackson Brown (, November 09, 2001.

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