Plenty of Fighting Ahead for Northern Alliance

Tuesday night, the Northern Alliance was forced to detach contingents from Kabul which its forces captured earlier in the day, and return them to the northern battle arenas of Konduz and Khanabad, a scant twenty four hours after those towns were said to have fallen.
debkafile‘s military experts report that the Northern Alliance did not actually capture either of those fortified towns as reported, but circled round them to reach the capital with all speed.
Taliban-al-Qaeda resistance persists additionally in five pockets around the predominantly Shiite town of Herat, where at least 3,000 Taliban fighters are still in the field. In Mazar-e-Sharif, further north, Taliban repulsed Northern Alliance militiamen Tuesday and recaptured the town’s northern suburbs together with Northern Alliance arms dumps.
The heaviest fighting is in Konduz and Khanabad, where close to 15,000 Taliban and al Qaeda fighters are fiercely defending the two fortified towns with the help of 120 tanks and a large quantity of artillery.
David Chater, who is covering this battle arena for Sky television, reported Tuesday November 13 that he came across a large group of Chinese Muslims fighting alongside the al Qaeda-Taliban armies.
The presence of Chinese Muslim fighters with Osama bin Laden’s network in Afghanistan was first exposed by debkafile on October 6, 2001. (Read report in China section of this site.)
debkafile‘s Gulf sources add that some 500 Saudis are also fighting with al Qaeda. They are members of the Saudi dissident “Arabian Peninsula Liberators” from the Nejd and Assir provinces of the oil kingdom. The continued US aerial bombardment of Taliban-al Qaeda lines in Konduz and Khanabad has caused many Saudi casualties, which does not exactly enhance the already troubled relationship between the Bush administration and the Saudi royal house.
debkafile‘s sources in Pakistan disclose that the Taliban supreme leader Mulla Mustafa Omar, Osama Bin Laden and Ayman Zuwehiri held a war council Tuesday noon on the beleaguered situation of their forces – probably in some part of their Hindu Kush fortified hideout. It was attended by a group of Taliban commanders. They agreed that while their situation was grave, not all was lost. They assessed the Northern Alliance’s lines and fighting strength as being overextended and their provisional bases capable of being overwhelmed before they took hold, if the Taliban and their allies could regroup and fight back.
The Northern Alliance, they judged, would be hard pressed to detach substantial forces from Kabul, where they were needed to secure the alliance’s interests in any future administration.
The Taliban forces scattered in the foothills of Hindu Kush along a strip 500 km long between Jalalabad and Kahandar, and the pockets behind Northern Alliance front lines, could be enlisted to hit the Northern Alliance from behind and cut its supply lines.
In a week’s time, when Afghanistan is covered in snow, small guerrilla units could start launching killing forays against Northern Alliance forces, keeping this tactic up for the duration of the winter – even if Jalalabad and Kahandar shared the fate of most other cities and fell to the Northern Alliance.
Mullah Omar’s call on his fighters to regroup and fight was therefore both a long-term strategy and a piece of political insurance. As long as it was active in the field, the predominantly Pashtun Taliban warranted a stake in any future administration in Kabul, as representative of the country’s largest ethnic group.

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