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Retaliation: U.S. aims to 'soften up' Taliban

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Smoke rises after a U.S. B-52 heavy bomber attacked Taliban positions near the Bagram Air Base north of Kabul, Afghanistan, on Friday.  


U.S.-led airstrikes intensified Monday, and a U.S. military spokesman told reporters raids in northern Afghanistan are aimed at preparing for a possible advance by the opposition Northern Alliance. Meanwhile, U.S. forces are considering whether they can use bases in Afghanistan's northern neighbor, Tajikistan.


Northern Alliance troops rallied on the plains north of Kabul on Monday as new allied airstrikes rattled the Afghan capital and the southern city of Kandahar. With plumes of smoke from raids by U.S. heavy bombers in the background, deposed Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani told the troops they must continue to fight the Taliban. (Full story)

A U.S. team is assessing whether bases in Tajikistan, a former Soviet republic, could be used in the campaign against the Taliban. "We would hope to have a capability to get access to Afghanistan from the north and the south," said Rear Adm. John Stufflebeem, a Pentagon spokesman. (Full story)

Speaking after meeting with Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes, Rumsfeld said U.S. forces "will take the least possible time" to achieve their objectives in Afghanistan. "There is no question that the effectiveness of the bombing is vastly improved as you have people on the ground in communication with the aircraft overhead," he said. (Full story)

The opposition Northern Alliance is reportedly planning a "multipronged attack" against Taliban forces in Afghanistan as U.S.-led warplanes continued their air raids Monday on Taliban positions north of the Afghan capital, Kabul. CNN sources report fighting around the northern city of Mazar-e Sharif. (Full story)

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said European Union leaders are united in their support of the U.S.-led campaign. Schroeder said EU leaders agreed at a London mini-summit Sunday there was a need for a "broad-based political concept" for Afghanistan's post-war era and that none of the leaders urged a cease-fire. (Full story)

CNN's Rula Amin reports on reactions by Arab foreign ministers to the latest statements by Osama bin Laden (November 4)

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U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld assures Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf of continued support. CNN's David reports (November 4)

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  •  Summary

  •  Update

  •  Key questions

  •  Who's who

  •  Impact

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What kind of government will replace the Taliban if the religious group is removed as the country's government? (Click here for more)

Where are the Taliban positioning troops and equipment in civilian areas? Does this factor into where the U.S. decides to strike? (Click here for more)

What effect will the support and opposition within Pakistan of the U.S.-led military strikes have on the war against terrorism?

When will the Northern Alliance, the anti-Taliban group that controls up to 10 percent of Afghanistan, begin a ground offensive to take the capital of Kabul? Are they making any progress? (Click here for more.)

What is life like in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, with increasingly intense U.S. airstrikes overhead? (Click here for more.)

How long will the U.S.-led military campaign in Afghanistan last? (Click here for more.)

What is the goal of the U.S. airstrikes over Afghanistan? What is the key to the mission's success? (Click here for more.)

What is the White House doing to prevent al Qaeda from airing what it calls "propaganda" on U.S. media outlets? (Click here for more.)

Who are the key players in the political landscape of Afghanistan, and how could U.S. military intervention affect the balance of power there? (Click here for more.)


George W. Bush: U.S. president (Click here for more.)

Osama bin Laden: A wealthy Saudi expatriate living in Afghanistan who U.S. authorities cite as one of the primary suspects in masterminding the attacks. (Click here for more.)

Condoleezza Rice: U.S. national security adviser. (Click here for more.)

Colin Powell: U.S. secretary of state. A former Army general, Powell also served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Click here for more. (Click here for more.)

Gen. Richard B. Myers: Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. (Click here for more.)

Gen. Tommy Franks: Head of U.S. Central Command. (Click here for more.)

Donald Rumsfeld: U.S. secretary of defense. (Click here for more.)

George Tenet: CIA director. (Click here for more.)

Northern Alliance: A group of former mujahedeen fighters, mainly from minority ethnic groups that oppose the Taliban. The group controls about five percent of northern Afghanistan.

George Robertson: Secretary-General of NATO (and former British defense minister) (Click here for more.)


The military attacks that began October 7 mark the start of what the Bush administration says will be a lengthy struggle against terrorist organizations worldwide -- one that could take years.


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