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Front Lines: Taliban pushed to limit

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Northern Alliance fighters arrest a suspected Taliban collaborator in Kabul on Wednesday.  


Pro-Taliban forces fought off continued assaults from Northern Alliance and other opposition forces in Konduz in northern Afghanistan and Kandahar, the long-time Taliban stronghold to the south.

Amid the string of Northern Alliance wins nationwide, "good-hearted" locals were credited with assuring the release of eight Western aid workers jailed for the last three months in Afghanistan.


Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders were killed in U.S. strikes in Kabul and Kandahar targeting the two groups' leadership, a senior Pentagon official said Thursday. There were no indications that al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was among the casualties, the official said. (Full story)

The Northern Alliance claimed to be in control of the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad on Thursday, as well as a Taliban military base in southern Herat province, about 100 miles south of the western Afghan city. None of the claims could be independently confirmed.

The status of Kandahar remained up in the air on Thursday. Northern Alliance officials said the Taliban had deserted the city but did not say who controlled it, and other sources indicated continued fighting in the streets and Taliban fleeing in droves. Omar said the city and "four or five provinces" remained under Taliban control. (Full story)

Eight Western aid workers detained by the Taliban in Afghanistan and fearful they would be used as human shields savored their first breath of freedom in three months on Thursday. Locals and opposition forces released them from a jail in a town 90 miles southwest of Kabul, with U.S. special operations forces whisking them away by helicopter.

Hundreds of Taliban fighters were killed in a battle with the Northern Alliance in Mazar-e Sharif after the anti-Taliban rebels took control of the key northern city last week, according to a Northern Alliance commander.

Anti-Taliban forces among the ethnic Pashtun plan to tell the Taliban and their supporters at a tribal council meeting Thursday night that it's time to accept a political solution to the war. Most Taliban are Pashtun as well.

Coalition intelligence agencies say they have discovered evidence of transactions involving sophisticated laboratory equipment, along with a new bioterrorism manual distributed to cells of the al Qaeda terrorist network. (Full story)

The BBC reported that Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammed Omar is speaking of a plan in the works to destroy the United States. "The current situation in Afghanistan is related to a bigger cause -- that is the destruction of America," Omar said. "If God's help is with us this will happen within a short period of time."

Relief agencies have told CNN they are sending teams to assess how secure some of the Afghanistan's key towns are following the Taliban's retreat. The groups have supplies positioned along Afghanistan's border and are poised to deliver huge shipments of aid as soon as they are cleared to enter the country.

CNN's Matthew Chance traveled with Northern Alliance troops into the Afghan capital (November 13)

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Afghans woke up to the news that Kabul had been overrun by the Northern Alliance. CNN's Kamal Hyder reports (November 13)

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  •  Summary

  •  Update

  •  Key questions

  •  Who's who

  •  Impact

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Will the Northern Alliance fully occupy Kabul or will most of its forces remain on the city's outskirts? (Click here for more)

Who are the Northern Alliance and other 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)

Will the Taliban surrender or will they continue to fight, possibly launching a guerilla war out of Afghanistan's mountains? (Click here for more)

Where is Mullah Omar Mohammed, the spiritual leader of the Taliban?

What kind of government will replace the Taliban if the religious group is removed as the country's government? Will there be a U.N. or international peacekeeping force in Kabul? (Click here for more)

How are the citizens of Kabul reacting to the Taliban abandoning the city? (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)


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)

The Taliban: A group of Islamic fundamentalists, mainly from Afghanistan's Pashtun ethnic group, which is the country's largest ethnic group. The Taliban that gained control of most of the country by 1997 and instituted an extreme form of Islamic law. (Click here for more)

Northern Alliance: A group of former mujahedeen fighters, mainly from minority ethnic groups that oppose the Taliban. (Click here for more)

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

George Tenet: CIA director. (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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