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Matthew Chance: U.S. coordinating with Northern Alliance

CNN's Matthew Chance
CNN's Matthew Chance  

NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN (CNN) -- U.S. warplanes on Monday attacked Taliban tank and troop positions in northern Afghanistan along their battle front with Northern Alliance forces.

With the attacks, the U.S.-led coalition appears to be increasing its coordination with the Northern Alliance for an eventual run at the Afghan capital, Kabul.

CNN's Matthew Chance is based with alliance troops in the north. He filed the following report:

CHANCE: Within the last few hours, there have been U.S.-led coalition warplanes striking again at frontline positions of the Taliban just north of Kabul.

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We have pictures of coalition warplanes streaking across the sky, dropping their payload into those Taliban frontline positions. It's the second consecutive day we've seen the strikes against the Taliban forces.

It's certainly ratcheting up the pressure on those Taliban troop concentrations north of Kabul. It's also giving Northern Alliance forces something they've been asking for quite a long time now, that close air support against Taliban defenses, to enable them to achieve their military objective and advance on Kabul.

CNN: Do you know how much coordination there has been passed along between the U.S. and Northern Alliance troops on the ground that would portend that an attack may take place soon?

CHANCE: There's quite a lot of coordination. As Northern Alliance officials have told us all along, there is daily contact with U.S. officials over military action and a range of other issues, and I can tell you Sunday during those airstrikes on frontline positions, a bunch of senior Northern Alliance regional commanders gathered at an air base just north of Kabul, just minutes before those airstrikes took place. They all stood there and watched the Taliban front line get hit by the coalition warplanes so that suggests a high degree of coordination.

I've also been down on the front lines myself. There's a lot of tension down there between the two sides, a lot of artillery exchanges. But at that point, there was no sense that the Northern Alliance was about to move on Kabul. They were going to maintain their defensive positions until they were given the green light.

In light of recent developments, we're watching for that more closely.

CNN: There was some complaint from the Northern Alliance that the United States was not hitting those targets. Have those complaints been quieted at all as a result of the last few days?

CHANCE: Yes, there was a lot of frustration that those frontline targets weren't being hit enough. What we saw Sunday and Monday is a lot more excitement and enthusiam and a welcoming by Northern Alliance troops and commanders on the ground that finally these attacks they say are targeting their enemies, the Taliban.


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