FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Alliance Calls for Bombing of Taliban Troops

by Patrick Cockburn In The Panjshir Valley The Independent

In the front line at Bagram airport north of Kabul, General Babajan, a veteran opposition commander, is laying plans for the capture of the Taliban positions overlooking the runway as soon as they have been softened up by US bombers.

General Babajan, a confident, jovial man, pointed to the menacing ridgeline of Tota Khan, 10 miles to the south, from whose summit Taliban gunners can ensure no plane lands or takes off at Bagram. He said the main Taliban headquarters was just behind the ridge in an old brick factory.

The question of close air support by the US is critical for the military future of the opposition Northern Alliance. Outnumbered and outgunned, its commanders can only hope to launch a successful offensive, as they have promised to do, if they get tactical air support from the US and its allies.

So far there is no sign they are going to. The Northern Alliance would love to push the Taliban back far enough to prevent them hitting Bagram airport with rockets. This would enable its soldiers to use the large Soviet-built airport to fly in supplies. But as long as the Taliban hold the four-mile long Tota Khan ridge, as well as a large hill called Kohi Safi, “the airport is useless to us” said an officer called Zahir, who is deputy commander at Bagram.

General Babajan said the Alliance leadership was waiting to see what the US would do. So far, he added, they had hit some important Taliban bases, but not others. “Probably the Americans will start attacking the front line in the next few days. We won’t attack until they do.”

General Babajan may be over-optimistic for the moment. The US has until now kept its distance from the predominantly Tajik Northern Alliance, out of fear of offending Pakistan and the Pashtun, the largest single community in Afghanistan’s ethnic mosaic, with 38 per cent of the population.

But the US air offensive may inevitably hit targets such as the strong points at Tota Khan and Kohi Safi simply because that is where the Taliban have concentrated their resources.

Rumours of impending air attacks on the front line have swirled in opposition-held districts over the past two days. “At first we were told that it was to be on Tuesday and now it may be tonight,” a Northern Alliance security chief told us. People living within a kilometre of the front have been told to leave their houses.

It is difficult to know what is happening on the other side of the line. Zahir, the deputy commander at Bagram, said his forces had spies who told them Taliban morale is crumbling. On the other hand, he admitted his forces had not received any defectors. On the whole of the Kabul front, only two or three Taliban have changed sides. CP

Patrick Cockburn is the author of  The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

Weekend Edition
September 23, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Meaning of the Trump Surge
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: More Pricks Than Kicks
Mike Whitney
Oh, Say Can You See the Carnage? Why Stand for a Country That Can Gun You Down in Cold Blood?
Chris Welzenbach
The Diminution of Chris Hayes
Vincent Emanuele
The Riots Will Continue
Rob Urie
A Scam Too Far
Pepe Escobar
Les Deplorables
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes, Obfuscation and Propaganda in Syria
Timothy Braatz
The Quarterback and the Propaganda
Sheldon Richman
Obama Rewards Israel’s Bad Behavior
Libby Lunstrum - Patrick Bond
Militarizing Game Parks and Marketing Wildlife are Unsustainable Strategies
Andy Thayer
More Cops Will Worsen, Not Help, Chicago’s Violence Problem
Louis Yako
Can Westerners Help Refugees from War-torn Countries?
David Rosen
Rudy Giuliani & Trump’s Possible Cabinet
Joyce Nelson
TISA and the Privatization of Public Services
Pete Dolack
Global Warming Will Accelerate as Oceans Reach Limits of Remediation
Franklin Lamb
34 Years After the Sabra-Shatila Massacre
Cesar Chelala
How One Man Held off Nuclear War
Norman Pollack
Sovereign Immunity, War Crimes, and Compensation to 9/11 Families
Lamont Lilly
Standing Rock Stakes Claim for Sovereignty: Eyewitness Report From North Dakota
Barbara G. Ellis
A Sandernista Priority: Push Bernie’s Planks!
Hiroyuki Hamada
How Do We Dream the Dream of Peace Together?
Russell Mokhiber
From Rags and Robes to Speedos and Thongs: Why Trump is Crushing Clinton in WV
Julian Vigo
Living La Vida Loca
Aidan O'Brien
Where is Europe’s Duterte? 
Abel Cohen
Russia’s Improbable Role in Everything
Ron Jacobs
A Change Has Gotta’ Come
Uri Avnery
Shimon Peres and the Saga of Sisyphus
Graham Peebles
Ethiopian’s Crying out for Freedom and Justice
Robert Koehler
Stop the Killing
Thomas Knapp
Election 2016: Of Dog Legs and “Debates”
Yves Engler
The Media’s Biased Perspective
Victor Grossman
Omens From Berlin
Christopher Brauchli
Wells Fargo as Metaphor for the Trump Campaign
Nyla Ali Khan
War of Words Between India and Pakistan at the United Nations
Tom Barnard
Block the Bunker! Historic Victory Against Police Boondoggle in Seattle
James Rothenberg
Bullshit Recognition as Survival Tactic
Ed Rampell
A Tale of Billionaires & Ballot Bandits
Kristine Mattis
Persnickety Publishing Pet-Peeves
Charles R. Larson
Review: Helen Dewitt’s “The Last Samurai”
David Yearsley
Torture Chamber Music
September 22, 2016
Dave Lindorff
Wells Fargo’s Stumpf Leads the Way
Stan Cox
If There’s a World War II-Style Climate Mobilization, It has to Go All the Way—and Then Some
Binoy Kampmark
Source Betrayed: the Washington Post and Edward Snowden
John W. Whitehead
Wards of the Nanny State
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail