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Kamal Hyder: Taliban targets destroyed in Afghanistan

Kamal Hyder
Kamal Hyder  

(CNN) -- Journalist Kamal Hyder is reporting from Taliban-controlled eastern Afghanistan and spoke with CNN Tuesday morning about the aftermath of the U.S.-led military strikes:

CNN: You're getting reports from around the country of the impact of these strikes. What do you know right now?

HYDER: One thing is for certain: they have basically caused considerable damage to the Taliban anti-aircraft missile systems, radar systems, communication systems. And after taking these out, it becomes easier for allied aircraft and American aircraft to be able to fly during daytime, which is important because they can see troop movement, they can pick out targets of opportunity. And it makes their job much simpler. So one thing is for certain: they have caused considerable damage to the Taliban anti-aircraft defense systems.

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CNN: Four U.N. aid workers were killed in one of the strikes, just outside of the city of Kabul. What are you hearing about civilian casualties?

HYDER: Other than the four deminers, which was very, very sad, considering the kind of work they do in Afghanistan to save lives, there is no other confirmation of civilian casualties so far.

CNN: The Taliban is also reporting from time to time that they have managed to hit some U.S. military aircraft. No substantiation from the United States; they're saying that all planes are reporting back in. What are you hearing about what the Taliban has been able to hit?

HYDER: It's surprising that the Taliban is saying that they've shot down aircraft, yet they do not allow journalists who are kept under strict rules here to show these aircraft allegedly shot down. Because it would only strengthen their case to prove that they've shot down these aircraft. The fact that they have not been able to show a single aircraft or a captured pilot shows that this is probably a propaganda campaign.

CNN: What is your sense of how the Taliban is holding up against these airstrikes?

HYDER: They are holding up, they are organized. They were expecting heavy strikes. There was a big time gap in between for them to prepare. They were able to disperse their personnel.

It must be remembered that the Taliban is not a conventional army. They don't move their armor and artillery, or move in organized formations. They are guerrilla forces, they are peasants from the rural areas. They intermingle with the local population, disappear into Afghanistan's rural landscape.

So they are not a conventional army, and when you're not a conventional army, it's very difficult to hit these targets. So what the Americans are hoping to hit are big sites which are already destroyed. Considerable destruction has taken place, so it's very difficult to be able to identify troop concentrations.

CNN: Have you been able to see firsthand the amount of damage, some of the targets hit?

HYDER: We are close to the city of Jalalabad, where the alleged camps of al Qaeda were operating, these are allegedly terrorist camps. And the outskirts of the city (are) well-defended and basically protected by Taliban intelligence personnel who have cordoned off these areas. They don't allow anybody to go close by. And their intelligence personnel can arrest anybody at will, anybody seen close to the damaged sites.

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