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Front Lines: Will the Taliban abandon Kandahar?

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U.S. troops ride horseback with members of the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan on Monday in this photo released by the Pentagon on Friday.  


Knowledgeable U.S. officials say they have "credible reports" suggesting that Mohammed Atef -- the military commander in al Qaeda's command structure -- may have been killed in a U.S. airstrike south of Kabul.

Sources affiliated with a group of Pashtun tribal leaders meeting in Quetta, Pakistan, told CNN that the Taliban's supreme leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, agreed Friday night to withdraw his forces from Kandahar.

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld also said that U.S. special operations troops are engaged in ground combat with Taliban forces.


U.S. officials say that intelligence information appears credible about the possible death of Atef, "you can't say he's definitely dead until we see the body," said one official. Atef -- whose daughter is married to one of Osama bin Laden's sons -- has been the second in command of al Qaeda since 1996, according to U.S. officials. (Full story)

Between 80 and 100 Pashtun tribal leaders met in Quetta to give the Taliban an ultimatum -- surrender within a week or face an attack by well-armed Pashtun tribesmen from six southern Afghan provinces. The Pashtun tribal leaders have been coordinating their efforts with Afghanistan's exiled king, Mohammed Zahir Shah, who lives in Rome, Italy. (Full story)

Speaking to reporters traveling with him, Rumsfeld said no U.S. troops have been killed and that hundreds of ground troops were involved in the operations. His comments echoed what Pentagon officials had been indicating for the past several days -- that U.S. troops have moved beyond an advisory and intelligence-gathering capacity into actual combat. (Full story)

Fierce fighting raged in Konduz on Friday, the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The Northern Alliance gave the Taliban a two-day deadline to surrender or face a massive onslaught. While local Afghans within the Taliban may accept the offer, less likely to do so were the Chechen, Uzbek and Pakistani fighters who owe allegiance to suspected terrorist leader Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network. (Full story)

The road to Konduz, the last Taliban stronghold in northern Afghanistan, bear witness to the effects of years of war. CNN's Ryan Chilcote details the destruction. (Full story)

Supporters of deposed Afghan King Mohammed Zahir Shah and Northern Alliance officials appear to be at odds over where to hold meetings on the creation of a post-Taliban government in Afghanistan. (Full story)

Discarded documents from the al Qaeda terrorist network were discovered in their wake, revealing terrorism plots and plans to construct nuclear weapons. (Full story)

Two tearful U.S. aid workers held by the Taliban for over three months for preaching Christianity have told reporters in Pakistan that they used their faith to get through the ordeal. (Full story)

Eight C-130 aircraft carrying 160 U.S. and British troops landed Thursday at Bagram Air Base north of Kabul to secure and inspect it for possible use in aid missions. They met no resistance. (Full story)

The French Defense Ministry announced on Friday it is sending a first contingent of troops as part of the international aid effort in Afghanistan. Officials said 60 soldiers were to leave the an air base in southern France for Uzbekistan on Friday morning.

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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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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