Afghan Opposition Claim More Battle Success

Published October 26th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Afghan opposition forces under commander Ahmed Shah Masood claimed to have driven the ruling Taliban militia out of several positions around the northeastern town of Taloqan in heavy fighting Thursday. 

Opposition spokesman Mohammad Habeel said they had gained ground to the east and north of Taloqan, the provincial center of Takhar which borders Tajikistan. 

The fighting raged as Masood met Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev in the Tajik capital Dushanbe to discuss the military situation in Afghanistan. 

Habeel said Masood loyalists took full control of Farkhar gorge to the east of Taloqan, captured the Hazar Somuch area and some high ground at Hazar Bagh to the north in heavy overnight battles. 

Another opposition official, asking not to be named, said Masood's forces had briefly taken Hazar Bagh town but retreated in the face of a Taliban counter-attack. 

He said fierce fighting was still going on around Chal to the east of Taloqan. 

The anti-Taliban groups had claimed the capture of Farkhar gorge, considered the gateway to Taloqan, four days ago but Habeel said they had been forced out of some parts of it.  

Taliban officials were not immediately available to comment on the oppositions’ claims, which could not be independently verified due to the remoteness of the region. 

The Taliban angrily reacted to the meeting in Dushanbe, warning of grave consequences for Moscow if it continued to back the opposition. 

Masood, the last impediment to the Taliban's full control of the country, suffered significant military setbacks last month, losing Taloqan at the climax of the Taliban's summer campaign. 

He has since regained some lost ground and told AFP in an interview last week that he intended to retake Taloqan before winter -- KABUL (AFP)  

 

 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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