U-S Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says hundreds of Taleban soldiers and al-Qaida terrorists were killed during Friday's battle for the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif.
Speaking on Fox network television (Sunday), Mr. Rumsfeld said troops of the Northern Alliance are in control of most of the city. But he described pockets of resistance in and near the city and said the airport has not yet been fully secured. He did not disclose the number of alliance casualties, and made no mention of U-S losses in the battle.
Mr. Rumsfeld's comments on Mazar-e-Sharif are the first by a senior U-S official since reports that alliance fighters, bolstered by U-S special forces, laid claim to the city Friday.
Since then, U-S warplanes have continued to bomb Taleban and al-Qaida sites near the capital, Kabul, as the pursuit of Osama bin Laden and his terrorist al-Qaida network enters its sixth week.
The Northern Alliance says it is moving toward Kabul along the main road from Mazar-e-Sharif. The alliance says its forces have also now captured the towns of Taloqan and Qala-i-Nau, and are approaching the western city of Herat.
President Bush said Saturday the opposition is encouraged to advance, but not to enter Kabul. He said a post-Taleban government representing all ethnic factions in Afghanistan needs to be established.
Mr. Bush said a power-sharing arrangement with all Afghan tribes would ensure a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. Appearing at the news conference in New York with Mr. Bush, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, said the opposition's entry into Kabul would create what he calls "the same kind of atrocities" that took place in 1989, when Soviet forces pulled out of Afghanistan, leaving tribes to battle among themselves.