Sketchy and extremely conflicting information is coming out of Afghanistan, where, according to world news agencies, the victorious march of the Northern Alliance’s forces continues. Muhitdin Mehti, the advisor envoy of the Islamic state of Afghanistan to Dushanbe, the Tajik capital, says that Northern Alliance forces seized the city of Kandahar today. According to him, the city is fully controlled by armed formations of ex-Afghan king Zakhir Shah. He also told journalists that Taliban spiritual leader Mullah Omar has fled Afghanistan and is now hiding in Pakistan. One can only guess to what extent this information may be trustworthy. Experience shows that the Northern Alliance is inclined very much to exaggerate its own successes, starting with the “bloody storm” of Mazar-i-Sharif, which, as later was made clear, the Taliban simply gave up, to the “successful attack” on Kandagar. Yesterday evening, news started to come in that the Taliban was leaving Kabul. By the morning, the alliance reportedly took control of the city, simultaneously continuing their offensive on Kandagar. Several hours ago, news came that the alliance managed to capture Kandagar’s airport. By now, officials at Afghanistan’s embassy in Tajikistan speak of a complete seizure of the city.
At the same time, the Qatarian Al-Jazeera television network, broadcasting reports from the spot, gives a somewhat different picture of what is going on. According to the network’s correspondents, neither the city nor the airport have been seized: the Northern Alliance has only captured an abandoned airforce base not far from Kandagar. A storm of the base was crowned with success because it was not guarded by anyone. Therefore, it is very difficult to understand what is going on in Afghanistan in reality, as no trustworthy information is available. Also, it is not clear what caused the Taliban to leave its positions. This might well have been a tricky maneuvre or retreat for regrouping. Or, perhaps, the Taliban has really been hurt as a result of US bombings.
Exhilarated with a successful offensive, the alliance forces are going to find themselves in a predicament. Instead of concentrating on the front line, they disperse over a vast territory, which hampers logistics and weakens the advancing army. In the meantime, the Taliban’s plan may consist exactly in this: to retreat to the mountains, entrench there, and start sorties against the alliance’s isolated units.
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2001/11/13/33757.html