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Anti-Taleban Forces Strike Kandahar, US Infantry Increases Security in Northern Afghanistan - 2001-11-30


Anti-Taleban Pashtun forces aided by U-S air strikes continue attacks on the Taleban's last stronghold in southern Afghanistan.

A Northern Alliance military commander (Bismail Khan) says his troops have joined the fight against Taleban forces near the city of Kandahar. However, U-S officials say there is no indication northern forces -- mainly ethnic Uzbeks and Tajiks -- are helping Pashtun tribal fighters around Kandahar and other southern front lines.

Taleban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar has ordered his followers to stand their ground and defend Kandahar to the death against U-S forces and their allies. A Pentagon spokesman says there are no reports of U-S Marines becoming actively involved in ground combat in southern Afghanistan.

U-S Army infantry troops have moved further into northern Afghanistan from their base in neighboring Uzbekistan. A spokesman for the army's 10th Mountain Division says soldiers are patrolling (the city of) Mazar-e-Sharif and the Baghram airbase north of the capital Kabul. The spokesman (Sergeant Major Ray Cordell) says the soldiers at Baghram are providing round-the-clock patrols of the area and are ready to help evacuate American aid workers in an emergency. He said the army's goal is to get the airfield ready within five days to improve the delivery of humanitarian relief shipments in the area.

Friday, coalition spokesman Kenton Keith confirmed that Northern Alliance forces have captured alleged al-Qaida terrorist Ahmed Omar Abdel-Rahman. He said his name has been closely associated with Osama bin Laden and with the training of al-Qaida terrorists in Afghanistan. He is the son of blind Muslim visionary Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, who is in jail for his involvement in the 1993 car bombing of the World Trade Center in New York.

Meanwhile, U-S officials say an American soldier died of a gunshot wound Thursday in Uzbekistan. Defense officials say the death was not caused by enemy action. The incident is under investigation.

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