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Chance: Reports of Taliban defections

CNN's Matthew Chance
CNN's Matthew Chance  


(CNN) -- Along with the air attacks, the ground war continues in northern Afghanistan. Taliban and Northern Alliance forces are facing off with artillery and machine guns just north of Kabul.

The Northern Alliance says it has cut off the main Taliban supply route and persuaded some 40 Taliban commanders and 1,200 fighers to switch sides.

CNN's Matthew Chance is following the story from northern Afghanistan.

CHANCE: Let me first bring you up to date on the latest military developments in northern Afghanistan. Throughout the course of the day, there has been intermittent exchanges of artillery fire from positions of the opposition Northern Alliance over across to the Taliban front lines north of the Afghan capital Kabul. Still no word at this stage when the Northern Alliance forces may begin that much-vaunted operation to press deeper into Taliban-controlled territory to make an advance on Kabul.

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There has been some frustration expressed by commanders to me on the front line. They want to see the U.S. strike not just the targets deep inside Afghanistan, but also front-line Taliban positions. They say they're going to continue their front-line positions, stepping up that military action apparently after another day and night of U.S. airstrikes.

... So the battle for control of Afghanistan gathers pace. And with the onset of winter now just weeks away, there is a renewed sense of urgency for those matters to be resolved soon.

CNN: There have been claims from the Northern Alliance that they captured territories in the west, claims that Taliban commanders have defected to their side. Can you confirm any of that?

CHANCE: Well, certainly, there have been those claims. Of course, in recent days officials from the Northern Alliance say they have captured territory in the west of the country, several hundred kilometers from where I'm standing right now. They also say they've taken several fighters on the ground with allegiances to the Taliban who have switched sides and joined ranks of the Northern Alliance.

There was a press conference Wednesday given by the Taliban ambassador. He totally denied there have been any defections. He denied there has been any territory lost to the Northern Alliance. We have no way of independently verifying either of those reports.

We've requested permission from the Northern Alliance officials to be taken to those front lines, to be taken to see those defectors, several hundred of which are said to have come over to the Northern Alliance side. As I say, we haven't managed to verify those reports yet. We can't verify the Taliban reports either.



 
 
 
 


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