In the Takhar direction (Takhar is a north-eastern province of Afghanistan bordering on Tajikistan), the artillery of the Northern Alliance shelled the advancing Taliban reserves. This information was presented by General Naim Nuri, artillery commander of the United Front. According to him, the Taliban has changed its tactics in the northern provinces of Afghanistan. Fearing missile and air strikes in major districts, it is pulling out its reserves from these districts trying to get closer to the Northern Alliance's positions. "With this aim in view, they advance their reserves and march towards the frontline, primarily at night," Nuri said. The commander also noted that the troops of the United Front in all northern provinces of Afghanistan "are confidently retaining the initiative." In Nuri's words, the troops of the Northern Alliance have managed to split the Taliban groupings and encircle separate groups. "The circle around them is narrowing," he said. The Northern Alliance calls upon the Taliban to disarm voluntarily. In the last two weeks, the United Front's units have been conducting active military operations in the Mazar-i-Sharif direction. The city of Mazar-i-Sharif is an administrative centre of the northern Balkh province bordering on Uzbekistan, where General Dostum's units are active now. An officer from Dostum's general headquarters said by phone that the Taliban units had been encircled in that province in the vicinity of Mazar-i-Sharif and some of them had been pressed near Khairatan which is close to the Uzbek border. According to Dostum's general headquarters, the Taliban units are deprived of any opportunity to get reinforcements, munitions and food supplies. Negotiations are being conducted with the Taliban leadership on their voluntary surrender. In the opinion of representatives of Dostum's general headquarters, within the next two to three days the units of the United Front will seize Mazar-i-Sharif and the entire Balkh province.
Russian small missile ships - the Grad Sviyazhsk and the Great Ustyug - set off for a mission to the Mediterranean Sea
President Vladimir Putin has not released an official statement yet about his position on the issue of the pension reform in Russia