Alessio Vinci: Non-Afghan Taliban fighters a wild card
(CNN) -- Taliban fighters in the northern Afghanistan city of Konduz have agreed to surrender by Sunday, a top Northern Alliance commander said Thursday.
CNN's Alessio Vinci is based in Mazar-e Sharif, Afghanistan, where the surrender talks took place. He filed this report.
VINCI: The Taliban and Northern Alliance have been meeting for two days here in Mazar-e Sharif and after those two days of negotiations, the top Northern Alliance commander, Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, has emerged. He spoke to journalists and he told us that Taliban Gen. Mullah Faizal has agreed to surrender all of the Taliban troops by Sunday night.
Gen. Dostum said that not only will the Taliban surrender the Afghan fighters but also the foreign fighters -- the Chechens, the Pakistanis and the Kashmiris, and all of those non-Afghan Taliban who have been fighting on behalf of the Taliban against the allied troops and the Northern Alliance.
Gen. Dostum, we understand, will travel to Konduz on Saturday, accompanied by some 5,000 troops who will oversee that surrender. Gen. Dostum said that all those who will surrender will be brought back to Mazar-e Sharif to be soldiered out.
All the so-called Taliban fighters will be allowed to return back to their homes; they will receive an amnesty. And all the foreign fighters will be arrested and tried and then either put in prison or released, depending on the judge's decisions.
We have not been able to speak with Gen. Mullah Faizal. He has left negotiations without talking to reporters. However, yesterday, before the first round of the talks ended, Mullah Faizal told us that he was confident that he had the complete control of all of the Taliban troops, including the foreign fighters, and he was convinced that the foreign fighters would be laying down their weapons after he issued that order.
Mullah Faizal has left Mazar-e Sharif. He is headed back to Konduz where he is expected to arrive tonight. Gen. Dostum also told us he has a specific promise from Mullah Faizal that he will request all of his troops, including the foreign fighters, to lay down their weapons by Sunday.
Whether this will happen or not, time will tell. However, Mullah Faizal said he is very convinced that eventually all of his troops will surrender their weapons. Should some fighters in Konduz choose not to lay down their weapons, he will use Northern Alliance troops to storm the city and finish those troops himself. All those who do not want to surrender will be fought.
CNN: Despite this agreement by the Taliban to surrender Konduz, we've been hearing reports about a new offensive by the Northern Alliance on Konduz. Fighting is going on right now. Do you have any explanation from the Northern Alliance commanders as to why this is happening?
VINCI: Yes, we did ask that question of the Northern Alliance here and they're telling us that they have received reports of some fighting going on. We must also stress the fact that this information about the deal is just emerging in the last couple of hours. Mullah Faizal is making his way back to Konduz -- about a five or six hour drive. This order will have to be issued and then make its way through his forces.
And of course there's going to be a lot of foreign fighters who do not wish to lay down their weapons. This has been the case on many occasions throughout the military campaign, as the Northern Alliance took control of towns, especially here in the north, where you had the Taliban fighters surrendering or switching sides or withdrawing, and then you had small pockets of resistance of the so-called foreign fighters. Here in Mazar-e Sharif alone, some 400 fighters were killed in one single standoff with the Northern Alliance.
So certainly, Gen. Dostum is telling us that he is ready to fight in order to completely redirect Konduz.
Taliban to give up hold-out city in north
November 22, 2001
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