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Chance: Northern Alliance cautious

CNN's Matthew Chance
CNN's Matthew Chance  

NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN (CNN) -- The U.S.-led air campaign against suspected terrorist targets in Afghanistan pressed into its second week Monday with strikes against Kabul, the eastern city of Jalalabad and the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar.

CNN correspondent Matthew Chance is based in northern Afghanistan, following the latest developments.

CHANCE: There are renewed attacks by the U.S.-led coalition across Afghanistan. It's all very quiet though here north of the Afghan capital, Kabul, on the front line on the territory run by the opposition Northern Alliance.

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We do have reports from eyewitnesses [in Kabul] that a telephone exchange has been put out of service because of the latest attacks. Also, a number of other targets were struck, underground bunkers and the like. We've not been able to confirm that here though from the Northern Alliance side. We've seen sporadic anti-aircraft fire though, noticeable from Taliban gunners around Kabul well north of the city here in Northern Alliance-controlled territory.

There's still very little sign of any movement, any push by those Northern Alliance forces out of their trenches toward Taliban positions across the front line. Northern Alliance forces say they've been placed on high alert. The commanders say they have a battle plan to take Kabul. They've made no bones about the fact that Kabul, the Afghan capital, is their ultimate prize.

But political leaders of the Northern Alliance do appear to be acknowledging though that the way ahead may have some difficult decisions before the order is given to move those troops ahead toward Kabul.

Abdullah Abdullah is the foreign minister of the Northern Alliance.

ABDULLAH: We are like 40 kilometers north of Kabul and the issue of Kabul is one of political as well as military importance for us and also as far as the situation in Afghanistan as a whole is concerned. Moving toward Kabul will need a political decision as well as military circumstances.

CHANCE: But one of the big post-Taliban concerns of the international community is, of course, that Afghanistan does not return to the kind of factional fighting that really ravaged the country after the withdrawal of the forces of the Soviet Union back in 1989.

One of the initiatives on the table is to bring back the deposed former king -- [Mohammed] Zahir Shah -- to head some kind of entering government ahead of elections. But there are still discussions under way. Nothing has been decided yet though.


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