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Matthew Chance: Taliban troops block road to Kabul

Matthew Chance
CNN's Matthew Chance  

NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN (CNN) -- U.S.-led forces were stepping up attacks Sunday on Taliban front-line positions near Kabul, Afghanistan.

CNN's Matthew Chance reports that the targeted Taliban troops remain a key obstacle to a Northern Alliance advance on the Afghan capital.

CHANCE: A CNN crew stationed at the front line here north of Kabul has witnessed what it says are a series of U.S.-led attacks against Taliban front-line positions.

What the crew has been reporting to us is that there are four separate bombing raids by what appear to have been U.S. fighter bomber planes on those Taliban front-line positions just about 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) north of Kabul. We haven't seen those kinds of sustained attacks since the beginning of the U.S.-led campaign here.

Images of Northern Alliance fighters watching the U.S. jet attack (October 21)

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What's also interesting, according to the CNN crew reporting from there, is that senior Northern Alliance commanders have gathered apparently to witness those attacks, suggesting a high level of coordination between the military commands of the United States and the Northern Alliance.

I was standing down on that very front line this morning local time, and it was a very tense situation -- a lot of artillery exchanges taking place between the two sides, the Taliban returning artillery fire across to the Northern Alliance positions.

There was no sign at that point of the much-vaunted push by the Northern Alliance toward Kabul. Obviously we're watching the situation very closely in light of the recent developments.

CNN: Matthew, is there anything specifically, say, geographically in that area that would draw the attention of the United States besides the Taliban forces?

CHANCE: I don't think so. No, the main strategic reason for the strikes, it appears, is that these Taliban troop concentrations are the main obstacle to the Northern Alliance advance on the capital, those front lines just 25 kilometers, as I mentioned, from Kabul.

They're stationed -- the Taliban troops -- on a mountain that basically blocks the road toward Kabul of the Northern Alliance.

The Northern Alliance commanders have been expressing their frustration for some time that the U.S.-led strikes so far have concentrated more on targets deep inside Afghanistan and not enough on those front-line targets that they fight on a day-to-day basis.

The removal of those front lines, those Taliban positions, would essentially open the way for a Northern Alliance advance on the capital.


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