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U-S Warplanes Continue Bombing Taleban Targets; Afghan Opposition Claims Wins - 2001-11-03


U-S bombers continue pounding Taleban targets today (Saturday), as opposition fighters claim progress in the ground war in northern Afghanistan.

Witnesses report high-flying B-52 bombers dropped munitions around the capital Kabul and on Taleban front-line targets to the north. Opposition Northern Alliance leaders claim their forces won territory in a major victory against Taleban troops south of (the city of) Mazar-e-Sharif. The opposition also says it captured 200 Taleban fighters, while hundreds more switched sides and joined anti-Taleban militia groups.

If confirmed, the opposition claims could signal a major offensive against Taleban strongholds in the few weeks remaining before winter snows close key supply routes.

Meanwhile, a third group of around one-thousand armed Pakistani volunteers is crossing into southern Afghanistan today (Saturday) to join the Taleban in their fight against U-S -led coalition forces. At least three-thousand mostly ethnic Pashtun tribesmen have left northwestern Pakistan in recent days.

On Friday, U-S defense officials said four American troops received minor injuries when bad weather caused a helicopter to crash somewhere inside Afghanistan. The officials said a second helicopter rescued everyone on board. The Pentagon says Navy fighter jets destroyed the downed helicopter to keep it from falling into enemy hands.

The Taleban said it shot down a U-S helicopter in eastern Ghazni province as it attempted to rescue the crew of another downed helicopter. The Taleban said as many as 50 American soldiers were killed, but U-S officials strongly deny the report. It was not immediately clear whether the Pentagon and the Taleban were talking about the same helicopters.

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