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Satinder Bindra: Taliban surrender in droves

CNN Correspondent Satinder Bindra  

(CNN) -- Control of the final Taliban stronghold in northern Afghanistan remains in question this morning. That's despite word that Taliban fighters are surrendering in droves. This stage of the conflict is centered on the city of Konduz, and CNN's Satinder Bindra is covering this morning's (Saturday) dramatic developments.

BINDRA: No one expected such a large contingent of local Afghan Taliban fighters to surrender. For the last three to four hours, we've been noticing them drive by here into Northern Alliance territory in large numbers. We're talking hundreds of troops driving their Jeeps, their pickups, and, in many cases, their tanks as well.

As you can see just over my shoulder, these are Taliban tanks that are standing here. Now, we're given to understand from Northern Alliance sources that later, perhaps even today or tomorrow, two senior Taliban commanders, these are Afghan Taliban commanders, will be surrendering. They'll be bringing more troops, say Northern Alliance sources, and they'll also be bringing artillery and tanks. (One of those senior commanders, Mullah Hamidullah, surrendered later Saturday.)

And now there's been another important development here, and that concerns the military front. The Northern Alliance is saying that if the hard-core Taliban commanders do not surrender by a given deadline tomorrow, then they will launch a fierce assault on the town of Konduz

Just in front of my eyes here, I noticed a Taliban tank pull up, Northern Alliance forces jumped towards the tank. They shook hands with the commanders and welcomed them here. With such a large defection of troops, the Northern Alliance believes that it has a better chance of now attacking and capturing Konduz. I've also been talking to many of the Taliban troops, the local Afghan Taliban troops who surrendered.

Now, they tell me they surrendered because the U.S. aerial bombardment on Konduz over the past several days was very intense. They also tell me they are now perfectly willing to fight with the Northern Alliance against the remaining Taliban fighters, many of them hard-core Taliban fighters, in Konduz.


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