U.S. jets bomb Taliban front lines

Across Taliban territory, U.S. jets bombed overnight near the fronts north of Kabul and near the key northern city of Mazar-e- Sharif, the Associated Press reported.

The cities of Jalalabad in the east and Kandahar in the south also came under attack, according to Taliban and other reports.

Overnight, the Pakistan- based Afghan Islamic Press reported, U.S. jets attacked at Dara- e-Suf, where the Taliban have stopped opposition forces trying to advance on Mazar-e-Sharif. Other U.S. strikes hit at Balkh province to the city's north.

Taking Mazar-e-Sharif would give the opposition full control of vital supply routes, allowing ammunition, other goods and troops to flow in from neighboring Uzbekistan.

The Pentagon said Monday that U.S. air operations were shifting north toward the borders with Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, apparently to bolster alliance forces along key supply lines.

The Taliban's own Bakhtar news agency reported overnight strikes south of the capital--some allegedly hitting a water supply system built by international aid groups. The Taliban news agency also reported U.S. attacks on Taliban front lines in northern Jozjan province, where Taliban troops faced off against Northern Alliance forces. U.S. jets renewed attacks at Kandahar, the Taliban's headquarters, which is almost emptied of its 500,000 people.

Afghanistan's anti-Taliban opposition was mobilizing hundreds of fighters today near the front north of Kabul--well armed, trained and ready for the order to march toward the capital, the AP reported.

Opposition commanders, impatient at three weeks of limited precision targeting by American warplanes, have been pushing for an all-out U.S. air assault against front lines outside Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif. The appearance of the 800 Northern Alliance troops near the front about 30 miles north of Kabul was the first tangible sign that the opposition was gearing up for a move on the capital.

Despite the bravado and the reinforcements, the opposition forces are believed to be far outmanned on the long-stalled front guarding the approach to Kabul. Thousands of Taliban fighters and Arab allies of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network are believed to be dug in across the hillsides and undulating valley facing the opposition forces.

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