Afghan opposition threaten attack before US

The opposition alliance in northern Afghanistan reviewed its forces today and pledged to launch an attack against the Taliban without waiting for US military action.

‘‘Today we have a chance to defeat the Taliban and the terrorists, and we will use it whatever the cost,’’ said Mohammed Fahim, who replaced assassinated alliance chief Ahmed Shah Massood.

He spoke from a jeep, reviewing a parade of opposition soldiers clad in fresh fatigues and standing along a line-up of tanks and armoured infantry vehicles.

Fahim and other northern alliance commanders said they planned to launch an offensive against the Taliban immediately and wouldn’t wait for the start of military action prepared by the US-led international coalition.

Fahim was deputy to Najibullah when he served as Afghanistan’s intelligence chief during the Soviet occupation of the country. Najibullah later became Afghanistan’s last communist president.

Opposition officials have said representatives of the United States and the northern alliance had been having ‘‘regular and daily meetings’’ outside Afghanistan, but declined to provide further details.

The United States has been beefing up its forces around Afghanistan, where the ruling Taliban are sheltering Osama bin Laden.

The United States has warned that the Taliban must hand over bin Laden or face the consequences. The northern alliance has hoped for US strikes that would help soften the Taliban resistance.

In order to bolster the opposition, both Russia and Iran have promised to increase military supplies to the Afghan opposition.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov has said that the opposition wants the simple, rugged Soviet-era weapons that they captured and learned how to operate during the Soviet 1979-1989 war in Afghanistan.

Officials haven’t released any figures on weapons supplies to the opposition.

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