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Taliban to give up last stronghold

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SUMMARY:

The Taliban appeared ready to surrender the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar Thursday, as word came that the airport east of the city had fallen to anti-Taliban forces. But details on how control of the city will be transferred to local tribal elders remains unclear, as well as the fate of the Taliban's supreme leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar.

Elsewhere in Afghanistan, anti-Taliban fighters are massing in the foothills of the Tora Bora mountains in hopes of dislodging Taliban and al Qaeda leaders thought to be hiding there. The U.S. military also is investigating Wednesday's friendly fire incident in which a U.S. bomb missed its target and killed three U.S. Army Green Beret soldiers and six Afghan opposition fighters.

UPDATE:

Afghan leader Hamid Karzai negotiated the surrender with the Taliban. The deal is believed to involve the Taliban handing over the city to a local mullah, who will then direct Taliban troops to turn over arms and ammunition to local Pashtun tribal elders. (Full story)

A representative of a local tribal commander in Kandahar said Taliban forces had handed over control of the airport, located about 10 miles southeast of the city. In eastern Afghanistan, meanwhile, intense fighting continued in the mountainous Tora Bora region, where al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is believed to be holed up. (Full story)

U.S. officials are investigating Wednesday friendly fire incident which also wounded 20 U.S. soldiers and 18 opposition fighters. The bodies of the two of the three U.S. soldiers killed were flown to Germany on Thursday, where they will be turned over to a military mortuary team. (Full story)

The U.N. Security Council unanimously endorsed the plan approved in Germany this week for a post-Taliban government in Afghanistan. But the council put off a vote authorizing a multinational peacekeeping force to provide security in and around the Afghan capital, Kabul.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell says an international peacekeeping force will be sent into Afghanistan, although "the mix and the leadership" has yet to be determined. (Full story)

Ethnic Uzbek warlord General Abdul Rashid Dostum announced he will boycott Afghanistan's recently agreed interim government because his faction was not fairly represented in the government agreement signed in Germany Wednesday. (Full story)

U.S. officials in Washington said Wednesday they have received an unconfirmed intelligence report suggesting one of bin Laden's older sons may have been killed in a recent airstrike. Experts say bin Laden has at least 23 children, at least 14 of whom are sons.

The U.N. refugee agency said that the number of Afghan refugees heading home from Iran has exceeded 24,000 people since the Taliban's hold on the western Afghan city of Herat was broken last month. (Full story)


  •  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 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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