Taliban digs in as it dissolves

Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON – Taliban forces in the Afghan cities of Kunduz and Kandahar dug in Thursday for what could be the regime’s last conventional battles, even as U.S. Army Gen. Tommy Franks declared that U.S. forces were “tightening the noose” around Taliban leaders and their allies in the al-Qaida terrorist network.

In Kunduz, the remnants of Taliban forces in northern Afghanistan, including as many as 3,000 zealous foreign fighters, broke off negotiations with opposition forces and sought to fortify their defensive positions for battle. In Kandahar, in the south, Taliban troops skirmished with several opposition groups and a small number of U.S. special forces troops.

But less than a week after the opposition Northern Alliance captured its first major city, Taliban forces continued to dissolve as some fighters defected, others fled the country and still others sought to blend in with the rest of the Afghan population.

In western Afghanistan, more than 100 soldiers, including at least 19 prominent Taliban leaders, were captured Wednesday. The general in charge of the arrests said many of the men had changed their appearance by cutting their hair and shaving their beards.

Although that made positive identification difficult, turncoat Taliban forces tentatively fingered three of the men as the former governor of the capital, Kabul, and the former governor and chief of police in Herat, in western Afghanistan.

In the Kandahar area, negotiations were apparently under way between tribal leaders and a number of local Taliban commanders in an effort to get the Taliban to give up power without bloodshed.

Even as the Taliban appeared severely weakened and on the run, its supreme leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, was warning Wednesday of the imminent destruction of the United States.

“The current situation of Afghanistan is related to a big cause – that is, the destruction of America,” Mullah Omar told BBC radio. “We will see this in short time.”

Asked whether there was a concrete plan for such destruction, Omar replied: “The plan is going ahead, and, God willing, it is being implemented. But it is a huge task which is beyond the will and comprehension of human beings. If God’s help is with us, this will happen within a short period of time. Keep in mind this prediction.”

U.S. warplanes also continued to aid opposition forces Thursday with strikes on Taliban positions outside Kunduz, in the north.

The Taliban forces around Kunduz gathered there last weekend after retreating from the fallen city of Mazar-e-Sharif and other nearby locations. They number about 20,000 in all, opposition commanders said. They are led by, according to Franks, “hard-core” foreign fighters from places such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the Russian republic of Chechnya.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Ariel Garcia, 4, was last seen Wednesday morning in an apartment in the 4800 block of Vesper Dr. (Photo provided by Everett Police)
How to donate to the family of Ariel Garcia

Everett police believe the boy’s mother, Janet Garcia, stabbed him repeatedly and left his body in Pierce County.

A ribbon is cut during the Orange Line kick off event at the Lynnwood Transit Center on Saturday, March 30, 2024 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
‘A huge year for transit’: Swift Orange Line begins in Lynnwood

Elected officials, community members celebrate Snohomish County’s newest bus rapid transit line.

Bethany Teed, a certified peer counselor with Sunrise Services and experienced hairstylist, cuts the hair of Eli LeFevre during a resource fair at the Carnegie Resource Center on Wednesday, March 6, 2024, in downtown Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Carnegie center is a one-stop shop for housing, work, health — and hope

The resource center in downtown Everett connects people to more than 50 social service programs.

Everett mall renderings from Brixton Capital. (Photo provided by the City of Everett)
Topgolf at the Everett Mall? Mayor’s hint still unconfirmed

After Cassie Franklin’s annual address, rumors circled about what “top” entertainment tenant could be landing at Everett Mall.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Stanwood in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Stanwood man gets federal prison for selling fentanyl on dark web

In 2013, Christerfer Frick was sentenced to nine years for trafficking drugs. He began selling online upon his release in 2020.

Molbak's Garden + Home in Woodinville, Washington closed on Jan. 28 2024. (Photo courtesy of Molbak's)
Molbak’s, former Woodinville garden store, hopes for a comeback

Molbak’s wants to create a “hub” for retailers and community groups at its former Woodinville store. But first it must raise $2.5 million.

A fire at a home near Alderwood Mall sent one neighbor and one firefighter to the hospital. (Photo provided by South County Fire)
Officials: Residents returned to burning Lynnwood home to rescue dogs

Five people and six dogs were displaced in the Thursday afternoon house fire, according to South County Fire.

Featuring a pink blush over a yellow background, WA 64 combines qualities of Honeycrisp and Cripps Pink (aka Pink Lady) for a firm, crisp, sweet and tart bite. A naming contest for the new apple runs through May 5, 2024. (Photo provided by Washington State University)
Hey Honeycrisp, this new breed of apple needs a name

Enter a naming contest for WA 64, a hybrid apple with the same baby daddy as Cosmic Crisp.

Police respond to a wrong way crash Thursday night on Highway 525 in Lynnwood after a police chase. (Photo provided by Washington State Department of Transportation)
Lynnwood woman, 83, killed in wrong-way crash following police pursuit

Deputies said they were chasing a man, 37, south on Highway 525 when he swerved into northbound lanes, killing an oncoming driver.

A memorial with small gifts surrounded a utility pole with a photograph of Ariel Garcia at the corner of Alpine Drive and Vesper Drive ion Wednesday, April 10, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Death of Everett boy, 4, spurs questions over lack of Amber Alert

Local police and court authorities were reluctant to address some key questions, when asked by a Daily Herald reporter this week.

People walk along the waterfront in front of South Fork Bakery at the Port of Everett on Thursday, April 11, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Port of Everett inks deal with longtime Bothell restaurant

The port will break ground on two new buildings this summer. Slated for completion next year, Alexa’s Cafe will open in one of them.

The new Amazon fulfillment center under construction along 172nd Street NE in Arlington, just south of Arlington Municipal Airport. (Chuck Taylor / The Herald) 20210708
Frito-Lay leases massive building at Marysville business park

The company will move next door to Tesla and occupy a 300,0000-square-foot building at the Marysville business park.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.