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Wedeman: Conflicting reports from Kandahar



(CNN) -- U.S. warplanes pounded Kandahar, Afghanistan, on Thursday, as an opposition leader denied that anti-Taliban forces were moving into the city, the Taliban's lone remaining stronghold.

CNN's Ben Wedeman, based in the area, filed this report.

WEDEMAN: What we're hearing are conflicting reports. One report claimed the anti-Taliban troops were moving on the town of Kandahar. The other: We spoke with Pashtun leader Hamid Karzai from the south who claims that he cannot confirm this report.

He spoke with some of his commanders who told him that there are no such moves afoot.

It's worth mentioning that today we had an interview with the defense minister of the Northern Alliance, who was discussing what he thought would be the possible next moves in this campaign, and he predicted that the Pashtun leaders would somehow be able to work out a surrender agreement with the Taliban troops in the Kandahar region.

Certainly we've seen over the last two and a half weeks, as the Northern Alliance pushed across much of Afghanistan, taking control from the Taliban, that they were able, by and large with some very bloody and notable exceptions to work out deals with the Taliban troops.

We saw with our own eyes, just south of Kabul, how the Taliban and the Northern Alliance dealt with one another and eventually were able to work out some sort of agreement. So, it's very difficult in this point and time, given the communication situation, to be able to confirm it one way or another.

But certainly reports that opposition troops are moving into Kandahar should be dealt with just a little pinch of salt.

CNN: Kandahar is the spiritual birthplace of the movement; we have Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar saying we will defend Kandahar. So, that also gives us an idea that this is not going to be easy.

WEDEMAN: Certainly, it will not be easy and it's even more difficult to try to predict how this is going to happen. As you mentioned, Omar, in a radio message today, called on his troops to give no more ground, to defend the territory they still occupy.

But it appears that the Taliban forces are in full retreat and this could be the case in Kandahar. It could be a case of the local Taliban troops deciding that it's simply no longer worth fighting and it's time to make a deal.



 
 
 
 



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