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Burns: Airstrikes meant to pave way for Alliance



(CNN) -- A U.S.-led bombing raid struck at targets in and around the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar early Thursday, in part, targeting a fuel storage facility outside the city. Airstrikes were also reported along the Taliban front lines in the north, where CNN Correspondent Chris Burns is based. He filed this report.

BURNS: A U.S. air raid is in progress right now. We've been seeing pairs of U.S. war jets flying overhead, dropping bombs over a number of positions just over my shoulder. They've been hitting a couple of positions there.

Also, there have been a number of airstrikes over a mountainside across from us, striking Taliban positions, dropping at least five bombs. The Northern Alliance seems to be taking advantage of these airstrikes. We saw two tanks rolling toward the front, rolling down the main road between here and Kabul, heading in the directions where there were airstrikes overnight.

So it does appear they're trying to take advantage of those airstrikes. However, the commanders also say that those airstrikes are not nearly enough, that they need a lot more to be able to advance toward Kabul.

There are, however, reports that the Northern Alliance are building up their forces in anticipation of an eventual move toward Kabul. Also, there were airstrikes in Samangan and Balkh provinces, targeting Taliban positions.

We hear another U.S. plane flying right over my head, apparently getting ready to drop its bombs. We'll keep an eye on it for you.

It continues to fly by. So, the airstrikes do continue at this hour and they seem to have gone on longer today than they have before. This is the fifth day that those airstrikes have been targeting this front line and a lot of the Northern Alliance commanders say they have been waiting for that for quite some time.

CNN: Can you explain where the Taliban are entrenched and what kind of challenge do they oppose to the Northern Alliance?

BURNS: We'll do a quick spin-around, but we've got to be careful because we don't want the Taliban to see us. We are surrounded on three sides by the Taliban. That's the front back there by Bagram Airport; you see the road to Kabul, that is also the front; and if you look up at the mountains where the airstrikes were targeting most of today that is where the Taliban are dug in.

I'm going to swing back over so hopefully they don't see us. It is from there that they have been shooting rockets and mortars into villages like this one and another one about five kilometers away. Two people were killed in a strike a couple of days ago by a rocket attack from the Taliban in those hillsides.

And that is the latest there's a new phase of these airstrikes, focusing on those hillsides where the Taliban are dug in, to loosen up that resistance. But the Taliban are fighting back fiercely.



 
 
 
 


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