Afghanistan: November 24, 2001

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The battle for Kunduz appears to be ending with a whimper, not a bang. Defecting Taliban troops report they were told to get out anywhere they could. The surrounded area is not completely surrounded because the Taliban control several square miles of land outside the city. This area is large enough for aircraft to land in. In the last two days, at least three Pakistani transports have been seen landing. Reports from the city assert that these aircraft are taking Pakistani Taliban out of the city. There are also said to be several senior terrorist leaders in Kinduz and it looks like they are going to get away. No American officials will say anything publicly about the involvement of Pakistan in getting people out of Kunduz. 

So far, no American soldiers have been killed by the Taliban, but seven journalists have. Americans have been fighting on the ground. Several hundred American Delta Force and British SAS commandos have been roaming around southern Afghanistan. These troops have been collecting information, spotting targets for bombers and ambushing Taliban troops. None of these troops have been killed, although some have been wounded or injured in accidents. The commandos go in and out by helicopter, sometimes moving cross country on armed dune buggies. The commandos may also be assisting pro-American Pushtun leaders who have been trying to gain support for an anti-Taliban alliance. Money is being used in this effort. Some warlords have been paid $200,000 or more to change sides. Afghans will often change sides when the other guy has more guns, or money. But, as the British observed over a century ago, "you can't buy Afghans, but you can rent them."

In the south, an anti-Taliban Pushtun tribal militia cut the main road between Kandahar and Pakistan. This took place 45 kilometers southeast of the city.

While many Moslem nations criticize American operations in Afghanistan, most have also prevented their citizens from traveling to the area to join in the fighting. 

The United States has provided $247 million in humanitarian aid for Afghanistan in the last eight weeks. 

Ismail Khan, leader of the eastern Afghanistan Northern Alliance forces, is beginning to move southeast from Heart towards Kandahar. 

 

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