Fierce fighting is reported in northern Afghanistan as the anti-Taleban Northern Alliance continued pushing toward the key city of Mazar-e-Sharif near the border with Uzbekistan.
The armed opposition group said Tuesday that it has captured several villages from Taleban forces in the Sangcharak district and is now advancing east. There has been no independent confirmation of the claim. The Taleban confirmed Monday that the opposition had taken control of the small town of Zari, located on the main road that links Uzbekistan with Central Afghanistan. Opening the road to Uzbekistan would be a major advance by the opposition, which must smuggle ammunition and arms into the country.
Artillery exchanges were also reported Monday in the Panjshir Valley region, about 60 kilometers north of the Afghan capital, Kabul. Taleban officials say they have mobilized forces in Kabul to build bunkers, install anti-aircraft batteries and distribute weapons to defend against a possible U.S. attack.
Meanwhile, a leader of the Northern Alliance, former president Burhanuddin Rabbani, says the fight against the Taleban will continue despite the recent assassination of his military commander, Ahmed Shah Masood.
At a memorial service for Mr. Masood, Mr. Rabbani said the recent terror attacks against the United States are "the ringing bell that has woken the world to the threat of the Taleban." He says the prospect of international help has increased for the anti-Taleban group from countries including the United States.
Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.