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United Front Prepares Assault On Kandahar - 2001-11-30

The battle for the southern Afghan city of Kandahar is shaping up, but the awaited assault on the Taleban stronghold has not yet materialized. Defections from Taleban ranks have been reported, but the hard core of the Islamic militia is digging in for a last-ditch stand.

Taleban supreme leader Mullah Omar is reported to have told his followers to fight to the death to achieve martyrdom, as U.S. warplanes pounded Taleban positions.

According to a U.S. defense spokesman, splits are emerging among the defenders of Kandahar, with some defecting to anti-Taleban fighters and others ready to obey their leader.

Foreign volunteers, including, it is believed, members of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist network, are reported to be holed up in the city, located 450 kilometers southwest of Kabul.

Members of the anti-Taleban Northern Alliance, or United Front, as it has been re-named, claim some of its troops have reached the eastern outskirts of Kandhar. However, independent confirmation of the report is not available.

U.S. troops are combing an area near Jalabad, where Osama bin Laden is believed to be hiding.