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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

America Strikes Back: Daylight Air Strikes in Afghanistan

Aired October 9, 2001 - 06:03   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: Right now we want to get to Matthew Chance. He is in northern Afghanistan very close to the front lines -- Matthew.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Carol, indeed as those second day continues apparently of the U.S.-led air strikes against Afghanistan, officials of the Northern Alliance, the anti- Taliban forces here in northern Afghanistan, say they're continuing their bombardment of Taliban positions across the front line north of Kabul. But they say they've given an order to their troops to stay in their trenches, to bombard but not to advance into Taliban territory at this stage and not to advance towards Kabul yet.

Let's just take a look at the night scope video images we managed to record last night. You can see there those big flashes. That's what we assume to be the U.S. attacks last night. That's Monday night-Tuesday morning local time against northern Kabul. You can't see Kabul itself, of course that's blocked by a mountain range. Our line of vision is blocked by that. It also blocks the route of the Northern Alliance forces into Kabul as well. The mountains, of course, are held by the Taliban.

Difficult to make out I know, but there is a warplane flying through that picture somewhere dropping its bombs. A U.S. plane, a big explosion, followed by Taliban anti-aircraft fire flying into the sky, again, lighting up the skies over Kabul there.

Again, the Northern Alliance officials here in northern Afghanistan say they're holding back from actually advancing into Taliban territory. They say they're talking very closely to coordinate their military efforts with the United States, so back to you, Carol.

LIN: Matthew, they're holding back but what is going to be their signal to go ahead and march into the city of Kabul?

CHANCE: Well, it's difficult to say at this stage. They say that they're having ongoing daily talks with U.S. officials to coordinate their military strategy. What some of the Northern Alliance commanders have been telling me down on the front line is that what they want to see is a U.S.-led air strikes against Taliban front line positions. Remember that picture we saw of -- on the night scope the mountain range which is standing between the Northern Alliance and the forces of the Taliban, that's the big obstacle to taking the ultimate prize, the capital of Afghanistan, Kabul. What the Taliban -- what -- rather what the Northern Alliance commanders say to me that they want is for U.S.-led planes to strike those Taliban positions so they can take those mountains and then have a clear run through to the Afghan capital, Kabul -- Carol.

LIN: All right, we'll see what happens. Thank you very much. Matthew Chance reporting live from northern Afghanistan, but there have been casualties in these strikes -- Leon.

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: That's right. Let's get the latest right now from our Kamal Hyder who has been keeping some incredibly long hours the last few days reporting to us on the phone again from a scene in Afghanistan.

Kamal, good morning, can you tell us the latest this morning?

KAMAL HYDER, JOURNALIST: Well, I can tell you this that right now I mean the way the allied aircraft are flying in the daylight it only signals the fact that they have taken out key antiaircraft missile sites of the Taliban and they feel now secure to be able to run these sorties during the daytime which is much better for them because they can pick out targets of opportunity -- Leon.

HARRIS: Does that mean -- have you heard any reports from the Taliban about them continuing to say that they've been shooting down these aircraft? It's funny, you say that their -- these flights are coming in and they're going in totally uncontested, yet the Taliban is still reporting it from time to time that they've shot down planes.

HYDER: Well, if they have indeed shot down these planes there is no evidence to suggest that because I think there would be equally into the (INAUDIBLE) about showing the debris of these aircraft or any possibly -- possible capture of pilots. So far they haven't shown anything. They haven't shown a shred of evidence to suggest that they have been able to down allied aircraft. They do confirm, and of course that was a drone which they had shot down earlier, but I do not see any evidence there on the ground that they have shot down combat aircraft, at least we have not seen any evidence to suggest that.

HARRIS: All right, Kamal, you've been saying that planes are still in the air. Are you still hearing explosions? Are you still hearing reports of explosions from other cities with the people you're talking with?

HYDER: No, we have -- we are a bit far away from the city because of the increased Taliban intelligence activity who are looking for journalists and infiltrators or loyalists of the king. They're all over the place. They're in the rural areas, in the cities, they're apprehending people. And therefore, what we did see an aircraft last night fly overhead and headed in the direction of Jalalabad, that was the only evidence we saw.

HARRIS: All right. Well, Kamal Hyder, we thank you very much again. Great job keeping such long hours and please be careful. We hope to continue talking with you throughout this crisis. Take care.

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