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Anti-Taleban Forces Claim Moving Closer to Mazar-e-Sharif - 2001-11-07


Afghanistan's opposition Northern Alliance says its forces are moving closer to the Taleban-held strategic northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, following heavy bombing by U-S planes on Taleban front-line positions.

Northern Alliance officials say their troops are advancing toward the city - near the Uzbekistan border - from several points to the south.

On Tuesday, the opposition said its forces captured several key regions near Mazar-e-Sharif, the capital of Balkh province.

There has been no comment from the ruling Taleban on the latest opposition claims.

Opposition forces have been trying for nearly a month to capture the Taleban-held city, which has a major airfield and is a key supply link to Kabul.

Meanwhile, U-S planes dropped dozens of bombs near Kabul overnight, along lines where Taleban forces are faced off against Northern Alliance troops.

Heavy bombings were also reported near the eastern city of Jalalabad and in northeastern Afghanistan, near the Tajikistan border.

U-S special forces on the ground in Afghanistan have helped warplanes pinpoint Taleban and al-Qaida terrorist targets. U-S Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Tuesday the number of U-S special forces in Afghanistan has more than doubled since last week, and more are preparing to go in. He did not give precise numbers.

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