In the Takhar direction in Northern Afghanistan the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance is withdrawing its troops from the advanced positions before the air strikes on the Taliban's fire positions. This has become known on Friday from sources close to the military leadership of the Takhar group of the Alliance's forces. According to them, the command of the Takhar group does not intend to launch an offensive on Talukan and Kunduz (approximately 250 kilometres north of Kabul) prior to reliable neutralization of the Taliban's positions on the command heights from the air. The command of the Northern Alliance or the United Front, as the Afghans themselves call it, has now made a stake on the "small blood tactic", trying to minimize the losses of its forces. The other day the leadership of the Northern Alliance circulated a statement in connection with the expected US ground operation in Afghanistan. The document points out that the people of Afghanistan "not only is solidary with the world community in the necessity of doing away with the terrorist alliance of the Taliban and Osama bin Laden but also has long been fighting this alliance which disgraces Afghanistan in the eyes of the world community". In the opinion of the leaders of the Northern Alliance, a ground operation can be successful only if it does not lead to foreign interference in Afghanistan's internal affairs. "The leadership of the United Front of Afghanistan has always come out for setting up a broad-based coalition government. But we are categorically against imposition of such a government on the Afghan people from outside", the statement notes. At the moment the prime aim of the offensive operations of the Northern Alliance is not to take Kabul but to liberate the northern provinces of Afghanistan, the sources in its leadership note.