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Satinder Bindra: Afghan rebels report Taliban defections

CNN's Satinder Bindra
CNN's Satinder Bindra  

DASHTIQALA, Northern Afghanistan (CNN) -- Northern Alliance opposition forces said they have seized several Taliban strongholds in Afghanistan.

CNN's Satinder Bindra is in Northern Afghanistan and filed the following report:

BINDRA: Northern Alliance commanders say they have entered the central Afghan city of Bamiyan. Earlier Sunday, they said several thousand Taliban troops had defected to their side -- one Northern Alliance commander even telling us they had seized control of Bamiyan.

It's not possible for me to independently corroborate this claim, but clearly there is a lot of fighting going on in the Bamiyan region. If the Northern Alliance does manage to capture Bamiyan, it will be significant because Bamiyan straddles several key supply lines that run north into Taliban territory.

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This year, Bamiyan shot to international prominence when the Taliban destroyed two huge Buddhist statues. One of these Buddhist statutes was 1,500 years old.

There are developments in this sector where I am as well. The former stronghold of the Northern Alliance forces here, the town of Taloqan, we gather is going to see some very heavy fighting in the coming hours ahead.

CNN: As the Northern Alliance advances, are they reporting that they're running into resistance from the Taliban or are they simply occupying areas that the Taliban were leaving?

BINDRA: It depends from sector to sector. In Bamiyan, there are reports that large numbers of Taliban troops are defecting. In this sector where I am, Northern Alliance forces, some 2,000 of them, encountered some fierce resistance Saturday. Some 10 Northern Alliance soldiers were killed, some 30 wounded.

We also saw several Northern Alliance troops that had walked into land mines. Here, right now, Northern Alliance commanders are telling CNN crew that they expect the Taliban forces in this sector to fight "until dead."

CNN: I know it's getting into late afternoon where you are. What do you think will happen in the region as darkness settles in? Do you anticipate more heavy attacks from the air?

BINDRA: Yes, we are expecting more heavy attacks Sunday night. Saturday, there was very intensive fighting at this time. And all the ground advances are generally made at night after intense artillery attacks. We haven't seen any aerial strikes from U.S. planes, but we have been seeing over the past one, 1 1/2 hours, several hundred troops driving up to the front line. We are also seeing a lot of armor.

We understand some 35 T-55s -- Russian-built T-55s -- are being deployed by the Northern Alliance forces in this sector where I am.


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