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Kandahar isolated as opposition gears up

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SUMMARY:

Allied bombing Monday destroyed two bridges leading out of Kandahar, Afghanistan, further isolating the Taliban's last stronghold, as Afghan opposition forces and U.S. Marines prepared for a possible final assault on the southern city.

Meanwhile in Germany, a revised draft agreement put forth by the United Nations for an interim post-Taliban government in Afghanistan was close to being finalized, sources said Monday.

UPDATE:

Kandahar has only one access and exit route, almost isolating it from the surrounding countryside, CNN has learned. Airstrikes pounded the Kandahar area Sunday night and Monday, mostly centered on the airport east of the city. (Full story)

Maj. James "Bo" Higgins, an intelligence officer with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, said the military campaign for Kandahar had reached "a culmination point." Higgins said no decision had been taken to commit U.S. Marines to the coming battle for Kandahar, but Afghan opposition forces were moving toward Kandahar from the north and southeast. (Full story)

One of the non-Afghan Taliban fighters who survived last week's prison uprising is an American, U.S. officials said Sunday on condition of anonymity. The fighter, who identified himself as John Walker, told CNN he was a convert to Islam and a "jihadi" -- fighter of holy wars -- who joined the Taliban six months ago. (Full story)

The U.N. proposal for a post-Taliban regime in Afghanistan calls for a 29-member ruling group, made up of a chairman, five deputy chairmen and 23 council members. The top position in the interim administration would go to the Rome, Italy, faction, which represents former Afghan King Mohammad Zahir Shah. (Full story)

The body of Johnny Spann, a CIA operative killed during a prison uprising at Mazar-e Sharif last week, was returned to U.S. soil Sunday. Spann, a former Marine, was questioning Taliban prisoners at the compound when the uprising began November 25.


  •  Summary

  •  Update

  •  Key questions

  •  Who's who

  •  Impact


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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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