The city of Kunduz is the Taliban’s last stronghold in Afghanistan. Fierce fighting is in progress outside the city. The US Air Force is carpet-bombing the Taliban’s positions round the clock. According to the latest reports, there are some 25,000 to 30,000 Taliban soldiers fighting in Kunduz, and they have repeatedly declined all appeals to surrender. Civilians are trying to flee the city, in which there are virtually no intact house left.
“Of late, the bombings have been absolutely terrible,” – says one of the refugees. According to him, “people are frightened. There are victims among the Taliban, but ordinary people also die together with them.” The Taliban are demoralized and do not want to defend the city. But they are being held back by Arab mercenaries who have threatened to shoot all deserters. Show executions have already taken place. But it did not stop, but only provoked, mass flight from the Taliban ranks.
“To save oneself, a soldier needs money. Some of them try to sell their arms; you can buy a riffle at as little as several dollars. Others shave off their beards, so you cannot figure out where the true Taliban are. Only foreign mercenaries are going to be left there soon,” one of the mercenaries is quoted as saying.
The problem of the mercenaries also is a matter of concern for US generals, who follow the developments outside Kunduz from their remote workplaces. US Defence Minister Donald Rumsfeld hopes that the Taliban’s opponents will heed advice coming from Washington and will not let the Taliban's most dangerous commanders and fighters escape. “It would be shame if the mercenaries in Afghanistan, from Al-Qaeda or the Chechens, would be let abroad to other countries where those guys are sure to continue their activities, says Mr. Rumsfeld. Another remains in Kunduz, although talk between the Taliban and the opposition forces of a possible surrender of the former are continuing. According to Admiral Stufflebeam, the USA could suspend bombings in some areas should the opposition ask for it. But so far, despite the talks being in progress, no requests have come in.
In the meantime, Arab mercenaries have nothing to lose. There will be no pardon for them, and it is useless for them to expect any mercy from the USA. Therefore, both psychologically and politically, they are set to carry on fighting.
Dmitri Litvinovich PRAVDA.Ru
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2001/11/21/34040.html