The Philadelphia Inquirer
October 26, 2001
`American bombing is so
foes of the Taliban, frustration with the limited U.S. strikes continued
War With Terror
JABAL SARAJ, Afghanistan - As American warplanes
again struck Taliban positions north of Kabul, opposition Afghan leaders
yesterday called on the United States to step up an aerial campaign they
described as largely ineffective so far.
Afghan fighters here were baffled by reports that U.S. military leaders
were surprised at the Taliban's toughness. Such comments from Washington
struck the Afghans as naive, considering that nearly every Afghan male has
grown up on war.
23 years of war, we've seen plenty of bombing," said Gen. Hoji Almas,
commander of frontline troops around the village of Rabat. "The
Russians bombed between 6 a.m. and midnight to no effect. The American
bombing is so little. What they've done in five days is not the same as
one day's bombing by the Russians."
waved his hand dismissively.
the United States is going to rely just on this little bit of bombing, I
think it's wrong, a mistake. People thought America was powerful. If they
don't achieve their aim, the whole world will mock them like they mocked
19-day bombing campaign appears to have failed to significantly weaken
battle-hardened troops of the Taliban.
to now, we don't understand what America wants, what its objectives
are," said Hoji Qadir, an ethnic Pashtun commander whose forces are
fighting in mountains near Jalalabad. "We see only bombing, and for
the Taliban, this bombing is nothing."
the governor of the Kapisa province who like many Afghans uses only one
name, said the recent bombing of Taliban positions along the Shamali Plain
25 miles north of Kabul was mild compared with the assaults that Afghans
endured for a decade during the Soviet occupation in the 1980s.
are used to bombing during the Russian times," Azimi said. "The
only effect of the American bombing on the Taliban is that some of their
supply and logistical bases were destroyed."
Abdullah, the foreign minister of the Afghan government in exile and chief
spokesman for the opposition Northern Alliance, said yesterday that he
understood the frustration of military commanders who see the bombs have
missed "massive concentrations of Taliban at the front lines."
believe if there is better cooperation, there will be better
results," said Abdullah, who urged the American military planners to
consult with the opposition.
officials in Uzbekistan said a Taliban commander, Mullah Yusuf, and 10
other Taliban fighters were killed in bombing near Mazar-e Sharif. The
opposition also said its troops captured the village of Shurchi on the
southern outskirts of Mazar-e Sharif and took 180 Taliban prisoners. The
reports could not be independently confirmed.
Taliban said a U.S. bomb struck a bus early yesterday in the southern city
of Kandahar, killing at least 10 civilians in a fiery explosion. The
report could not be independently confirmed.
Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in Washington said that the American attacks
were hurting the Taliban as well as No. 1 terror suspect Osama bin Laden's
al-Qaeda terrorist network but that efforts to get bin Laden himself were
proving difficult. "It's like finding a needle in a haystack,"
Rumsfeld told a Pentagon news conference.
James Jones, Marine Corps commandant, said the Marines' top
special-operations unit was ready to deploy to Afghanistan on six hours'
notice. He spoke aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt in the Arabian Sea.
a rising chorus of dissatisfaction came on the fifth consecutive day of
limited American assaults on the Kabul front, which stretches for 20 miles
across the flat, fertile Shamali Plain. Northern Alliance soldiers,
protecting the ethnic Tajik stronghold of the Panjshir River valley, have
been dug in here since the Taliban captured Kabul in 1996.
afternoon a few American jets approached the Kabul front from the north,
flying high to avoid desultory Taliban antiaircraft fire, and dropped
fewer than 10 bombs on Taliban positions behind the front lines and in the
hills overlooking the plains.
was no sign yesterday that Northern Alliance commanders were organizing
their troops to attack the Taliban fortifications outside Kabul.
think we have to be flexible," Abdullah said. "If the situation
arises, and we can move on Kabul or have to move on Kabul, we should do
while calling for more cooperation with the Americans, denied that U.S.
military advisers had visited the Panjshir Valley recently or were still
present near the frontline positions. Another alliance official, Yonus
Qanooni, on Tuesday said the U.S. air strategy had shifted to the front
lines this week after a Defense Department entourage visited Northern