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Northern Alliance plans new offensive

DASHTIQALA, Afghanistan (CNN) -- New raids by U.S. heavy bombers hit Taliban forces in coordination with Northern Alliance commanders Sunday as the opposition said a fresh offensive was in the works.

Four major waves of strikes by heavy bombers hit from early morning till about noon Sunday near the village of Dashtiqala close to the Afghanistan-Tajikistan border.

Bombs smashed into hillsides where Taliban forces were dug into deep trenches and a warren of tunnels. U.S. pilots appeared to operate unimpeded by Taliban ground fire, while Northern Alliance artillery and tanks fired at Taliban positions.

Atiqullah Baryalai, vice defense minister for the Northern Alliance, said Taliban radio frequencies carried calls for cars and trucks to move the wounded and indicated that a Taliban Arab commander had been killed.

Haron Amin, the Northern Alliance's political representative at the United Nations, said that "preparations are being made" for an alliance advance soon.

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"We hope it will be a multipronged attack in the north," Amin told CNN on Sunday. But he added, "We have got our own strategy. We will move when the time comes."

He said the alliance likely would include a new push toward Mazar-e Sharif and toward the capital, Kabul, but opposition forces did not plan to enter Kabul.

"We, out of our own desire, have tried to come up with a political road map before moving into Kabul," Amin said. Those efforts are still under way, he said.

He tried to deflect criticism that the opposition forces have not taken advantage of the U.S.-led bombardment, saying promises of equipment and supplies from the U.S.-led coalition have not materialized.

"Remember, when we made a move and captured the held points overlooking the airport of Mazar-e Sharif, then there were no airstrikes by the international counterterrorism campaign," he said. "When we ran out of ammunition, that's when they had the air raids."

Meanwhile in Washington, Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Taliban "are on their heels."

"They are not the ones that have the initiative here. We have the initiative," Myers said. "The opposition groups have the initiative. Just last night and the night before, we put in a couple more teams with opposition leaders -- and the more teams we get on the ground, the more effectively we'll bring air power to bear on the Taliban lines."

Though Myers said more U.S. advisory teams were going into Afghanistan, Gen. Tommy Franks, commander of forces in the region, told ABC's "This Week" that talk of a ground campaign was premature.

"If we try to phase it in a way that we say, 'Well, we'll have an air war, and then we'll have some special operating forces and then we'll have a ground war,' then I think it starts to look a little too conventional," Franks said. "It begins to look a little too much like efforts we've seen in the past. As I've said, as the president has said, this is not a war like any war we have had before."

Franks said U.S. officials "have not sought to prompt or to direct" attacks by the opposition.

"In some cases, we will find that some of the opposition leaders will be undertaking operations that will be not connected to each other," he said. "What we do is, we seek to provide an advantage to opposition leaders with whom we share a common objective."

The United States is not attempting to occupy "major strategic terrain like Mazar-e Sharif or like Kandahar or like a piece of geography," Franks said. "We are aware of the activities of these opposition forces. We synchronize our activities with their activities, and the purpose is pressure."


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