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Front Lines: Taliban receive an ultimatum

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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.  


SUMMARY:

Control of Kandahar remains unclear as the Taliban mull over an ultimatum from Pashtun tribal chiefs to lay down their weapons or face an attack.

The Pentagon expressed skepticism that Osama bin Laden is not in Afghanistan, despite reports that quote the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan as saying the al Qaeta network leader has left for an unknown location.

The Associated Press reported that a Taliban officials has confirmed the report that Mohammed Atef, a senior al Qaeda leader, was killed in a U.S. airstrike.

UPDATE:

The claim on bin Laden's whereabouts by Mullah Abdul Salaam Zaeef, the Taliban envoy to Pakistan, could not be independently confirmed, and in Washington, U.S. authorities said they had no indication bin Laden had left. At the Pentagon, Defense Department spokesman Glenn Flood said, "Our search continues. Just consider the source." (Full story)

The Associated Press reported Saturday that Mullah Najibullah, a Taliban official in the southeast Afghan border town of Spinboldak, had confirmed the death of Mohammed Atef, but said he refused to identify the location of the airstrike. Atef -- whose daughter is married to one of Osama bin Laden's sons -- has been the military commander of al Qaeda since 1996, according to U.S. officials. (Full story)

Former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani returned to the Afghan capital Saturday for the first time since he was deposed by the Taliban in 1996, said the Northern Alliance's foreign ministry. (Full story)

U.S. airstrikes Saturday targeted Taliban positions in two villages in Konduz province, according to a local Northern Alliance commander, who observed the bombing from a hilltop front-line position 2 miles (3 km) away.

Political control of Kandahar remained unclear Saturday as Afghan tribal leaders held meetings with Taliban commanders, trying to persuade them to lay down their weapons or face an attack by opposition forces. (Full story)

Officials from the Northern Alliance say most of a group of British special forces at Bagram Air Base north of Kabul must be withdrawn from Afghanistan, according to Reuters. The agency quotes an official as saying 15 of the 100 British troops who arrived at the base on Thursday can stay for humanitarian tasks. (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)

 VIDEO
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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 RESOURCES
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KEY QUESTIONS:

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)

WHO'S WHO:

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)

IMPACT:

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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