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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

America Strikes Back: Northern Alliance Wants U.S. to Bomb Front Lines Near Kabul

Aired October 11, 2001 - 06:06   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.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Now let's stay in the region, though, let's check in with our Matthew Chance. He is with the Northern Alliance forces in Jebal Seraaj. He's in Afghanistan. He's got a report for us right now on the raids in Kabul.

Good morning, Matthew, what have you learned?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I can tell you that there's been obviously over the past 24 hours very intensive military activity in the skies over northern Afghanistan, particularly over Kabul. We've got some pictures that came to us this morning of the residents of the Afghan capital city apparently picking through the rubble of the buildings there. Don't know whether, of course, the buildings were destroyed in the latest round of air strikes or whether they were destroyed in the years of civil war that has racked Afghanistan, really, since the end of the -- of the Soviet invasion in 1989.

I can tell you also that it was a very intensive night of air strikes, though. That word has been used quite a lot over the course of the -- of the last few hours or so, but let's take a look at the night scope vision that we managed to record for you from a strategic location north of the Afghan capital, Kabul. You can see those bright glowing flares or flames, rather, lighting up the skies over Kabul. Also being pounded -- Northern Alliance artillery positions pounding Taliban front lines.

There's been some frustration expressed by front line commanders of the Northern Alliance, the main opposition to the Taliban here, that the air strikes from the United States are focusing too much on the big infrastructural targets deep inside the country under Taliban control and not at all on the front line positions that they're fighting on a day-to-day basis. Of course their military objectives are very different from the United States, although they say they're working in coordination with the U.S. What their objective is to do is to get into Kabul to take control of this country -- Leon.

HARRIS: Yes, Matthew, while we understand the Northern Alliance's frustrations with that, we have also understood from the Pentagon that's a line that the U.S. and British are being careful about crossing.

But we're hearing reports that the U.S. air strikes have shifted focus from hitting facilities and things like towers and installations to actually targeting troops, maybe not troops on the front line. But we understand that there was a huge bomb, a bunker-busting bomb, dropped on a collection of troops and some cluster bombs dropped on Taliban troops there as well. Ad the object here is to demoralize them and to get them to break their will and perhaps get them to trade, to change sides or whatever. Have you seen or heard any reports from the guys you're talking to there that there has been any wholesale changing of sides yet?

CHANCE: Now indeed we haven't, in fact, Leon. We have -- we have been hearing the report, obviously, of those big 5,000-pound bombs, and indeed the Pentagon is talking about changing its strategy away from the infrastructural targets towards the troops.

But I mean one of the main concerns here -- the biggest concern here are the troops that face-off the Northern Alliance along that front line, particularly the mountain range that separates the Northern Alliance positions here from the outskirts of Kabul. That's very firmly under Taliban control and it effectively cuts the road into the Afghan capital. That's the issue -- that's the front line troop concentrations that the Northern Alliance are concerned about. And as far as officials are concerned here, they're saying the American as yet are not striking on those targets.

HARRIS: Matthew Chance reporting live this morning from Jebal Seraaj, Afghanistan, be careful over there. We'll talk with you later on.

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