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Satinder Bindra: Heavy strikes on Taliban front

CNN's Satinder Bindra  

NORTHEASTERN AFGHANISTAN (CNN) -- Hours after Northern Alliance forces claimed to have made significant gains about 30 miles from Mazar-e Sharif, U.S. forces unleashed a new wave of air attacks against Taliban frontline positions near that strategic northern city as well as the Afghan capital, Kabul.

CNN's Satinder Bindra is with opposition troops in northeast Afghanistan. He talked to CNN's Martin Savidge on Saturday about U.S. strikes and Northern Alliance advances.

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BINDRA: Two things are happening here. First, where I am in the northeast, we've been witnessing very heavy bombing from U.S. bombers all Saturday morning. They're coming in waves. They come after every two to three minutes. And they're bombing Taliban frontline positions, which you can see just over my shoulder. In the past several hours, we've seen several huge explosions.

From the Taliban side, we've seen some anti-aircraft fire. But it doesn't seem to be effective because these planes that are bombing frontline positions here are flying very high, and they appear to be B-52s.

Ever since I've been here in this sector, for more than two weeks, this is the heaviest bombing that I've witnessed. So clearly the position here is getting more intense.

South of here toward the significant town of Mazar-e Sharif, we are hearing that there has been very heavy ground fighting. The United Front, or Northern Alliance, took -- they captured a district that is about 30 miles south of Mazar-e Sharif. They're telling us that fighting broke out Friday night. It lasted for about three hours. By the time it was over, the United Front troops are saying that some 400 Taliban soldiers defected and some 200 surrendered.

United Front troops also are saying that they captured significant amounts of military equipment, which include about 50 pickup trucks.

I must add that these claims from Northern Alliance or United Front troops cannot be independently verified. All the Taliban is saying is there is intense fighting just south of Mazar-e Sharif at the moment.

SAVIDGE: Satinder, what is going on on the ground regarding the Northern Alliance?

BINDRA: Certainly in this sector where I am, the Northern Alliance or United Front troops are watching all this bombing with great interest. They are now saying this bombing is more intense, it's more accurate. In this sector where I am, in northeastern Afghanistan, United Front or Northern Alliance troops don't seem to be moving toward frontline Taliban positions.

But as I've just reported, in Mazar-e Sharif, the United Front or Northern Alliance troops are now going forward. They say this is their most significant victory since this campaign started just about four weeks ago.


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