Opposition Expects US Strikes on Afghanistan to Begin in Days
Afghanistan's opposition said Sunday that it expects US military strikes against the Taliban to start within days and that the Islamic militia's days were numbered.
Dr Abdullah Abdullah, chief spokesman for the Northern Alliance -- also known as the United Front -- said he was confident that the long-awaited strikes against the regime were imminent after talking with US officials.
The opposition would launch its own offensive shortly after the US-led attacks, he added. Abdullah also revealed that the opposition air space had been closed in recent days in expectation of a US-led attack.
"I believe the strikes by the United States and the [international] alliance will take place very soon," Abdullah told reporters in this opposition stronghold.
"My perception is that it will be a few days of air and rocket strikes."
"It will involve air bombardment and rocketing of positions of the Taliban and terrorist camps."
The attacks would be mainly around the capital Kabul and the cities of Jalalabad and Kandahar. Other targets would include air bases and ammunition dumps.
Abdullah said that an opposition offensive would "take place a few days after the strikes".
Asked what would be targeted during the opposition push, Abdullah said: "Any Taliban position, any Taliban stronghold in Afghanistan will be a target. The strikes will not spare any significant target.
"Kabul is not a priority but if the circumstances were ready -- if it was required -- we could move on Kabul," he added.
Abdullah said that the attacks by the US alliance would bring a rapid end to the Taliban regime which currently controls some 90 percent of the country and seized Kabul in 1996.
"My expectation is that in a matter of a few days after the strikes the Taliban will totally lose control," he said.
There would be resistance "for some time in some areas of southern Afghanistan" but he did not think the resistance would be widespread after Islamabad withdraws its support for the regime.
"Without support from Pakistan they will not be able to sustain their capacity as a military force -- small or large," he said.
Pakistan, a long-time ally of the Taliban, is still the only country to accord the regime diplomatic recognition, but its President Pervez Musharraf has firmly backed US demands for the hand-over of Osama bin Laden, the chief suspect in last month's terror attacks in New York and Washington.
Abdullah said that the Taliban had failed to grasp the enormity of the forces now ranged against it.
"Most Taliban commanders don't know what they are facing. They are not aware of the dimensions."
They would come under attack in a way that bore "no comparison" with the previous US attacks on Afghanistan in 1998, he said.
Abdullah added that he was in constant contact with US officials and had spoken to some shortly before he briefed reporters -- JABAL SERAJ, Afghanistan (AFP)
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)