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Northern Alliance Claims to Have Secured Land Corridor North to Uzbekistan - 2001-11-10

In Afghanistan, the Northern Alliance says its forces have captured more territory from the Taleban, securing a land corridor north to Uzbekistan where U.S. forces are stationed.

The Northern Alliance says its troops are moving north and east from the strategic town of Mazari-Sharif which it capture Friday. It says it is gaining more territory as Teleban forces retreat, including a vital highway which has been the Taleban's main supply route to the north.

The Taleban says its retreat from Mazari-Sharif was a "strategic withdrawal" and its troops are regrouping to the southeast of the city and will launch a counter-offensive.

However, Northern Alliance Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah says the Taleban has been weakened by American air strikes and the loss of its logistical center of Mazari-Sharif. He says Northern Alliance troops have already secured a corridor to Uzbekistan where U.S. forces are stationed. He says the territory will be cleared for the delivery of humanitarian and military supplies within a matter of days, rather than weeks.

Mr. Abdullah says the alliance's next military objective is the town of Talaqan in northeastern Afghanistan. He says the Alliance wants to secure the north of the country before starting its offense toward the capital, Kabul.