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Afghan Alliance 'ready to attack'



BAGRAM, Afghanistan (CNN) - With the U.S.-led strikes pounding Kabul from the air, commanders from the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance are calling on American military planners to target Taliban forces along the frontline.

The outmanned Alliance, which controls up to 10 percent of Afghanistan, is hoping a blitz over several days will soften up Taliban positions, paving the way for an offensive and eventually their retaking of the Afghan capital.

Since the air strikes began forces from the opposition Northern Alliance and the ruling Taliban have continued to exchange artillery and machine gun fire along the frontline north of Kabul.

In the city of Bagram, some 40 km (25 miles) north of the capital Northern Alliance gunners and Taliban forces are dug in barely 500 meters apart.

Sporadic gunfire keeps the gunmen on the alert.

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The city is a ghost town -- devastated and deserted, except for the fighters.

Northern Alliance defensive positions are spread out along the rooftops of gutted buildings.

The remains of a real estate office and mosque stand nearby.

Frustration

An Alliance commander known as Babajan has been preparing for an offensive, while he gives pep talks to his ragtag army.

Waiting for the green light from the United States, he says he hopes it comes soon -- before winter sets in.

"I want U.S. strikes to be more powerful, because they've had no effect here," he says, adding that he is frustrated the air strikes had yet to target Taliban forces on the front lines.

An unidentified fighter told CNN he is fighting to rejoin his wife and children in Kabul.

"Everybody has scars in their hearts," he says, "so we're all ready to attack."

On Tuesday Alliance commanders said they had cut the Taliban's main north-south supply route through the province of Baghlan, effectively isolating Taliban forces in the north -- a claim that could not be independently verified.

They said that during the offensive 40 commanders and 1,200 fighters allied with the Taliban had defected to the Alliance.






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