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Front lines: A southern offensive

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SUMMARY:

With the last Taliban stronghold in northern Afghanistan cut off, a Northern Alliance commander said Friday he was prepared to push south toward the last areas under Taliban control.

UPDATE:

Ismaeil Khan, leader of the Northern Alliance's western forces, told CNN his troops have already begun their battle for Marjeh and Nadali, two towns near the airport in Helmand province. Helmand is just north of Kandahar, the embattled Taliban's political and spiritual base. Northern Alliance leaders have sent 3,000 fighters into the area, said Khan's son Mirweiss Khan, Herat's security chief. (Full story)

In northern Afghanistan, meanwhile, U.S. warplanes bombed Taliban positions Friday near Konduz, where the Taliban were still holed up despite an agreement to surrender there soon. Senior commanders with the Northern Alliance maintained that the Taliban fighters in Konduz would lay down their arms Sunday, in accordance with an agreement struck Wednesday between top leaders from both sides. But Northern Alliance fighters near Konduz, skeptical of the promised surrender, continued to press toward the city. (Full story)

The White House has stepped up its propaganda war against the Taliban, releasing a report highlighting news accounts of reported Taliban and al Qaeda atrocities. The report -- which includes accounts of an entire family burned alive and 100 Afghans hanged from lampposts -- begins with the Taliban's capture of Kabul in 1996. (Full story)

CNN military analysts David Grange says the Afghan Taliban leaders in the besieged city of Konduz may want to surrender -- but their Chechen, Arab and Pakistani troops are unlikely to give up. "Those guys have no future," said Grange, a retired U.S. Army major general. (Full story)


  •  Summary

  •  Update

  •  Key questions

  •  Who's who

  •  Impact

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw met with senior Pakistani ministers Friday to thrash out a common stance on the future of Afghanistan. Straw is in the region attempting to bridge differences between the Northern Alliance, Pakistan and Iran. Straw and Pakistani Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar both called for a "broad based multi-ethnic civil administration" in Afghanistan to replace the Taliban. (Full story)

Taliban diplomatic officials quickly left their former embassy in Islamabad on Thursday after Pakistan ceased recognition of the Taliban and ordered the mission closed. (Full story)

France plans to commit some 5,000 troops -- including 2,450 naval and air force personnel aboard the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle -- to support the U.S.-led military campaign in Afghanistan, a French defense ministry spokesman said on Thursday. (Full story)

Poland has agreed to contribute up to 300 soldiers -- including some from an elite commando unit -- to support the U.S.-led military operation in Afghanistan. (Full story)

 VIDEO
Former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani told CNN's Christiane Amanpour that he has agreed to a meeting of ethnic Afghan groups (November 20)

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Jalalabad is calm now following a change in power, but the Afghan city could still turn bloody. CNN's Bill Delaney reports (November 19)

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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: NATO secretary-general 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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