PRAVDA.Ru correspondent Sergey Borisov reports
The largest US-Afghan operation over the whole history of the Al Qaeda and Taliban war is being carried out in the mountains of Eastern Afghanistan. The USA tries to prevent rearrangement of the terrorists remaining there. Coming spring may provoke them to start more counter-attacks.
The groups remaining in the Eastern Afghanistan are not scanty. Before Kabul’s surrender some military experts said, only a part of the 60,000 Taliban army suffered US army’s blow. The main group retreated without a single shot. According to DEBKAfile news service, even the famous 55th brigade that used to be under the command of Osama bin Laden and Aiman Zavakhiri, survived. It tried to avoid direct collisions and retreated to the emplacement prepared beforehand in the mountains. Al Qaeda and Taliban forces are looking for a shelter in the snow-covered mountain passages. Experts fear that the thousands of Talibs may occupy the Afghan capital once again. The odds may be in their favor in Kabul as well as in Kandahar. It is already reported, in some regions, in Gazni particularly, the done to the wide Talibs try to bribe local tribes with money and arms.
Military sources inform, Talibs prevail among opponents of the new Afghan regime. Al Qaeda members make up less than 500 people, those are the people who had managed to escape Tora-Bora before Americans came. It is clear, Talibans have drawn the moral of their defeats near Mazar-i-Sharif, Kunduz and Tora-Bora. DEBKAfile says, the fighting near Tora-Bora was a restrictive manoeuvre at the defeat to the strong enemy. The Talibs’ activity is quite different now. Badly disciplined groups and willful commanders are under the central command now. It is surprising, but the terrorist groups still have missile plants, mortars and machine-guns in the arsenal. Contrary to the Afghan military traditions, the Talibs are now more concerned about foodstuffs and arming supplies. The actions became more flexible, the Talibs easily avoid air strikes. The Talibs’ reserves are based in western Pakistan.
US strategists, who are planning further attacks against the Talibs, have faced a disagreeable psychological situation. The USA has already proclaimed defeat of the Talibs and Al Qaeda, appointed its own government in Kabul. But, as it turned out now, the war is not over and will last for an uncertain period. At the same time, the done to the wide Talibs are probably getting ready for a new offensive. The Taliban had been ousted from Afghan cities, but found a shelter in remote mountainous regions. Al Qaeda lost its main bases in Afghanistan, but many of its militants are said to have left for Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Chechnya. The Talibs get ready for new battles, as soon as US troops leave Afghanistan. The USA must be understanding it, that also explains the attacks of the Talibs in the mountainous shelters. Results of it can hardly be predicted. The Talibs probably expect that sooner or later the majority of the US troops leaves. However, there will be not less contradictions in the Afghanistan government. It will be a good moment for the Talibs. Sergey Borisov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/03/07/37969.html