US special forces direct B–52 carpet bombing

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The Independent Online

B–52 bombers pounded the Taliban front line north of Kabul today, blasting a Taliban field headquarters, directed in by US special forces on the ground.

Opposition fighters and awed villagers on the opposition–held side of the front estimated as many as 60 bombs fell by midday. Huge explosions sent plumes of smoke surging up from Taliban positions.

Fighters counted six runs by B–52 bombers, with each dropping 25 bombs in rapid carpet bombing on suspected Taliban positions. They appeared to be targeting positions both on the front line, including a Taliban–held village called Kharabogh, and deeper inside Taliban–held territory.

The bombardment appeared to be part of increased U.S. cooperation with the opposition northern alliance, which seeks to push through Taliban defenses before winter makes ground offensives more difficult. Fresh snow appeared today on the peaks surrounding the front at the Shomali Plain.

Across Taliban territory, other US strikes were reported overnight at the Taliban's southern headquarters city, Kandahar, and at front lines surrounding the Taliban's northern stronghold of Mazar–e–Sharif.

Between 100 and 200 US special forces are on the ground helping identify targets for warplanes and coordinating with the opposition

One huge bomb blasted the abandoned Qara Muheb village that opposition forces said the Taliban used as a field command centre.

US jets returned to attacks at the capital overnight for the first time since Sunday, striking the northern outskirts.

Afghanistan's opposition forces have moved more troops and artillery to the front. Heartened by the intensifying U.S. bombing, opposition fighters insist they are prepared to move on Kabul.