Afghanistan's opposition Northern Alliance says its forces are attacking Kunduz after negotiations failed to convince the Taleban to surrender the northern city.
Alliance Interior Minister Yunus Qanuni told reporters in Kabul today (Thursday) anti-Taleban military forces hope to be in control of Kunduz within days. The offensive was launched just hours after a senior opposition military leader, General Rashid Dostum, announced he had reached agreement with the city's commander (Mullah Fazil) for the surrender of thousands of troops who hold the Taleban's last stronghold in northern Afghanistan.
The surrender offer reportedly called for safe passage for Afghan Taleban fighters and the detention of the fundamentalist militia's foreign volunteers -- mainly Arabs, Pakistanis and Chechens. Interior Minister Qanuni rejected the offer, saying it was a tactic to divide Northern Alliance forces.
A spokesman for the U-S -led coalition (Kenton Keith) told a news conference in neighboring Pakistan the coalition could agree to a deal in Kunduz that gives Afghan Taleban safe passage from the city, but not their foreign colleagues.
Meanwhile, the French news agency quotes ethnic Pashtun tribal leader Hamid Karzai as saying Taleban military leaders are seeking direct talks on resolving the standoff at their headquarters in southern Afghanistan. Mr. Karzai also is quoted as saying Taleban spiritual leader Mullah Mohammad Omar is perfectly aware of the telephone negotiations regarding when and where to discuss the future of Kandahar.