Taliban Moves to Combat U.S. Strikes
Taliban leaders have decided to distribute weapons like rocket launchers and heavy machine guns to respond to strikes by U.S. ground forces, Taliban Education Minister Mullah Amir Khan Muttaqi told Reuters.
“The decision was made to mobilize and equip people in all districts, villages and provinces against the commando attack of America,” Muttaqi said. “We have enough arms to distribute to people for this cause.”
A raid involving more than 100 U.S. special forces troops near the southern city of Kandahar was the first confirmed use of U.S. ground troops in the recent strikes on targets inside Afghanistan.
Also today, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard Myers said the U.S. military is prepared to use deadly force if necessary against exiled Saudi millionaire Osama bin Laden.
Asked whether U.S. forces would kill bin Laden on sight, Myers said the decision would depend on what happens when he’s found.
“If it’s a defensive situation, then bullets will fly. But if we can capture somebody, then we’ll do that,” he told ABC’s “This Week”.
Bin Laden is the U.S.’s prime suspect in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, which killed some 5,400 people.
Meanwhile, U.S. warplanes today struck Taliban positions north of the capital, Kabul — the front lines of the Taliban’s battle against the opposition Northern Alliance.
Reporters in the area say the attacks are the closest and most intense against the Taliban’s northern front.
Opposition forces said U.S. bombs appeared to strike about a mile behind the the front lines.
“We are hoping this will be a big help for the future of our forces,” Waisuddin Salik, an opposition spokesman, told the Associated Press.
Leaders of the anti-Taliban group have urged the U.S. and Britain to provide closer air support so they could advance on the Afghani capital, but the two countries had been reluctant help the group seize Kabul.
Secretary of State Colin Powell said today whether the rebels “actually go into Kabul or not … is an issue that is under continuing discussion.”
Asked if it was necessary for Kabul or the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar in the south to be taken soon, Powell told Fox News Channel it would be “in our interest and the interest of the coalition to see this matter resolved before winter strikes.”
Powell said while the U.S. is respectful of the Muslim Ramadan holiday, which starts in mid-November, that might not necessarily bring an end to military action.
“We have to be respectful of that very, very significant religious period, but at the same time we also have to make sure that we pursue our campaign,” Powell said. “So I will yield to my Pentagon colleagues as to what may be required if we are still in this kind of a military campaign mode when Ramadan approaches.”