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Chance: Alliance seeks U.S. support



(CNN) As the U.S.-led air strikes on Afghanistan continue unabated, one group that stands to gain from any political transformation the attacks might bring is the Northern Alliance. Intense combat between Taliban and Alliance forces has been reported from their front-line positions. The Alliance is seeking U.S. military support to help it with an offensive on Kabul.

CNN Correspondent Matthew Chance has been following these developments from northern Afghanistan.

CHANCE: We're not sure when that offensive is going to take place, but certainly officials of the Northern Alliance say it is their long-time military strategy to take the road fully that leads from their positions here in northern Afghanistan through to the Afghan capital of Kabul. There have been some frustrations expressed by front-line commanders, on the front line north of Kabul, with the U.S.-led air strikes. (They say) those airstrikes have concentrated mainly on targets deep inside of Afghanistan, and not on the front-line positions they're fighting every night. Of course, there have been very intensive bombardments of Kabul.

The Alliance front-line commanders say they've also been carrying out attacks on Kabul itself, but on the front-line positions of the Taliban. What they're looking for is some kind of close air support from Washington to enable them to take out those positions of the Taliban on the mountains overlooking Kabul to give them a run right through to the Afghan capital.

It's not clear, though, yet that Washington is going to assist them, at least publicly, in that aim, though the very fact that they're bombing military targets inside Afghanistan, according to the Pentagon, is a help and is being welcomed by the Northern Alliance.

CNN: Matthew, you say they may not be publicly supported by the U.S., but privately, what is going on?

CHANCE: They're not telling us what's going on privately, in short. What they are saying is that there are daily contacts with officials of the United States, but that they are coordinating their military strategy closely. They're not giving us any details about exactly what is being discussed. Obviously what they (the Alliance) want, what they privately want, is close air support to take out those front-line Taliban positions.

They say they can give an exchange at the very least of some intelligence-gathering capability. Remember, no one has more experience at fighting the Taliban than the fighters of the Northern Alliance. They have experience fighting in this very mountainous northern terrain, and that's something, an experience they could pass along to the United States, if the U.S. wants that kind of information.



 
 
 
 



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