The Philadelphia Inquirer
October 25, 2001
U.S. jets step up
an hour or so, bombs fell on Taliban posts. Alliance forces, unimpressed
with the assault, kept up the ground battle.
War With Terror
Afghanistan - American jets intensified their attacks on Taliban frontline
positions north of Kabul yesterday, the fourth day that U.S. warplanes
have targeted entrenched positions 25 miles north of the capital. At least
four jets, circling at high altitudes, dropped bombs for about an hour on
positions behind Taliban lines around a former military airport at Bagram.
for the opposition Northern Alliance stared skyward as the warplanes,
glinting in the late-afternoon light, roared overhead. The planes dived to
a lower altitude before dropping their bombs, out of the range of
antiaircraft gun rounds that popped in the air with bright flashes.
Climbing, they jettisoned flares to divert surface-to-air missiles.
least 11 bombs struck Taliban positions near Bagram, sending up dark
plumes of smoke and orange balls of flames. Some of the explosions
continued as though the bombs had struck fuel or weapons depots. While the
aerial assault continued, opposition ground forces and the Taliban traded
mortar, rocket and small-arms fire across the front line that stretches
across the Shamali Plain, a fertile region north of Kabul. The concussion
of large guns filled the air.
and opposition commanders also traded insults by radio.
are the slave of the Americans and the dollar," a Taliban commander
told his rival after having insulted most of the rival's female relatives.
are the slave of Pakistan and your life will soon come to an end,"
the Northern Alliance commander retorted. Pakistan is the chief sponsor of
the Taliban movement, which swept into Kabul in 1996 and ousted the
quarreling leaders of what has become the Northern Alliance.
commanders - who had been critical of the absence of U.S. air support here
since President Bush launched the bombing campaign Oct. 7 - said the new
attention being paid to the frontline positions was insufficient to weaken
were especially unimpressed with the accuracy of U.S. bombs, two of which
fell inside Northern Alliance lines Monday.
bombing is having no effect on the Taliban," said Gen. Hoji Almas,
commander of the front line at Rabat, noting that he was sure of that
because "one day they hit us and it had no effect on us."
to the young officers surrounding him, Almas said the limited American
bombing would not frighten them - or their Taliban equivalents.
see this younger generation?" he said. "They grew up with
fighting and war. One bomb has no effect on them."
yesterday, on the other front where anti-Taliban fighters are engaged, the
Northern Alliance said 35 enemy soldiers had been killed in fierce
fighting 50 miles south of the northern city of Mazar-e Sharif.
alliance said it was moving forces toward the city in preparation for an
assault that would wrest it from Taliban control. Mazar-e Sharif sits just
25 miles south of the Uzbek-Afghan border and is the most important city
in the north of the country.
border to reopen for aid
the Uzbekistan government agreed to partially open its borders for the
first time in five years to allow humanitarian aid to cross into northern
Afghanistan, as U.N. officials predicted that as many as 100,000 Afghan
children could die this winter. Aid shipments should start flowing
"within the next week or two," one official said.
Uzbeks have agreed to allow use of port facilities and large barges at the
strategic border town of Termez to ferry aid across the Amu Darya River
into Afghanistan. The border was shut in 1997 after the Taliban captured
Mazar-e Sharif, 38 miles south of Termez.
Washington, the Pentagon acknowledged for the first time yesterday that
Afghanistan's ruling Taliban militia was proving to be a tenacious
opponent and hunkering down for a long fight that could drag on for months
through the harsh Afghan winter.
reporters at the Pentagon, Rear Adm. John Stufflebeem noted that the
Taliban had stopped advances by opposition forces on Kabul and an airfield
near Mazar-e Sharif, and had begun dispersing its forces in ways that will
be difficult to strike from the air alone.
are proven to be tough warriors," Stufflebeem said. "We're in an
environment they obviously are experts in and it is extremely harsh."
to assess the Taliban's strengths and vulnerabilities, Stufflebeem said he
was "surprised at how doggedly they're hanging on to power - I think
that's the way to put it."
also said that the Taliban might be planning to poison food aid being
distributed in Afghanistan and blame it on the United States. "We are
going to make sure that that is as widely known as fast and as far as we
can," he said.
United States has dropped more than 700,000 packets of food meant for the
hungry and displaced population since it launched its bombing campaign
over Afghanistan. Other relief organizations also are distributing food in
the country, and the Taliban militia that controls most of the country has
confiscated some of those foodstuffs.
the food comes from America it will not be tainted," Stufflebeem said
he wanted to tell people. "But if it comes from Taliban control, they
must be careful."
also said troops yesterday retrieved a Black Hawk helicopter that crashed
Friday in Pakistan while supporting a covert raid into Afghanistan. A
recovery crew had tried to retrieve it Saturday but aborted the mission
when it came under small-arms fire.
yesterday, President Bush told employees of a Maryland business that the
United States was winning the war on both fronts - in Afghanistan and in
the efforts to protect America's shores.
patient. We're firm. We have got a strategy that is going to work. And
make no mistake about it, justice will be done," the President said.
of State Colin L. Powell said that he hoped the antiterrorism war can be
concluded quickly but that the administration was prepared to keep up the
fight during the Muslim holy period of Ramadan that starts in
important point to remember," he said at a State Department news
conference, "is we have military objectives to accomplish, and I
would like to see all of those objectives accomplished in the next few
days as we approach this period of Ramadan and winter."
the Pentagon is vowing to flush out any Afghan fighters who hide in
residential areas to escape aerial attacks even as it acknowledges a few
of its bombs accidentally struck civilian sites.
officials yesterday alleged that American warplanes dropped a cluster bomb
on the hamlet if Shakar Qala in western Afghanistan, scattering nearly 200
pieces of unexploded ordnance the size of soda cans among bewildered
residents. Officials said many villagers were trapped in their homes by
the tiny, unstable "bomblets," which could explode if disturbed.
Pakistani militant group confirmed yesterday that 22 of its fighters,
including several senior commanders, were killed Tuesday in the bombing of
a house in Kabul, the deadliest strike known so far against a group linked
to Osama bin Laden.
Peshawar, Pakistan, more than 1,000 Afghan tribesmen, royalists, and even
a few Soviet-era guerrillas met to find a way to replace the Taliban