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Afghanistan: Attacks On Taliban Positions Continue

Kabul, 14 November 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Reports from the Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press say targets in the eastern Taliban strongholds of Jalalabad and Khost came under heavy attack overnight by U.S. warplanes. The reported aerial assaults came as anti-Taliban forces were reported consolidating their hold across Kabul following the Taliban withdrawal from the capital.

Reports quoted the U.S.-backed anti-Taliban forces as saying the Taliban's hold on Afghanistan is continuing to crumble, including around the southern stronghold of Kandahar. The reports could not be independently confirmed.

The Northern Alliance says it has deployed forces around Kabul to maintain security in the city, not to occupy it, as internationally supported efforts to form a transitional government proceed.

U.S.-backed Northern Alliance forces, fresh from their capture of Kabul and other territory, have urged all Afghan groups to come together to form a new government following the withdrawal of the Taliban from the capital.

Northern Alliance leaders say there will be no room for any Taliban in a possible political settlement.

Ousted President Burhanuddin Rabbani said he could arrive in Kabul as early as today, more than five years after he was deposed by the Taliban. Rabbani has appeared to rule out any future political role for former King Zahir Shah, saying the ex-king could return to Afghanistan, but only as a private citizen.

The Northern Alliance's foreign minister, Abdullah Abdullah, said anti-Taliban forces had entered Kabul to maintain security following the Taliban's unexpectedly quick retreat yesterday. The opposition forces entered despite appeals from the United States to wait for progress on forming a broad-based new government.

Kabul residents have been playing music and shaving their beards since the withdrawal of the Taliban. The Northern Alliance said women would now be allowed to work and female children allowed to go to school.

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld earlier said American special forces are inside Kabul, helping advise the Northern Alliance, while other U.S. troops were operating on the ground in southern Afghanistan.