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Tuesday, 25 September, 2001, 14:22 GMT 15:22 UK
Anti-Taleban forces gear up
Opposition fighters in Northern Afghanistan
The opposition says it has captured Taleban positions
The political leader of Afghanistan's opposition Northern Alliance, Burhanuddin Rabbani, has urged his troops to prepare themselves for action.

Mr Rabbani was speaking in northern Afghanistan at a memorial service for the former military commander, Ahmed Shah Masood, who was assassinated earlier this month.

More than a thousand people attended the service chanting slogans hailing General Masood and his successor, General Fahim.

Burhanuddin Rabbani
Burhanuddin Rabbani: Call to arms
The political and military leadership took it in turns to speak, led by Mr Rabbani, the former president, who said the tragic events in America offered the Northern Alliance a great opportunity.

He appealed to the international community to work with the Northern Alliance, but he warned he would not accept a government imposed on Afghanistan.

Click here for map of Afghanistan

His fighters, he told the crowds, were the first to battle against Osama Bin Laden, and the ones who knew how best to defeat him.

He described the Taleban as the greatest danger for the region and the whole world, but he said it took the tragedy in the US for others to understand that the fight against the Taleban was a just one.

And he ended with a call to arms, urging Afghans at home and abroad to join the struggle.

Fighting intensifies

The Northern Alliance, which controls about 10% of Afghanistan, has been emboldened by the massive build-up of US forces in the region and the threat of a military strike on the Taleban.

Opposition fighter
The opposition's weapons are no match for the Taleban's
On Tuesday, they welcomed an offer by Russia for more arms and other support.

A spokesman, Dr Abdullah Abdullah said any change in the arms situation would have an impact.

The BBC's correspondent in northern Afghanistan says the opposition's heavy weaponry is known to be no match for the tanks and air power of the Taleban.

Reports quoted the opposition as saying they had captured several villages in Taleban-held territory near the borders of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

"The fighting continued the whole night and this morning," opposition spokesman Mohammed Ashraf Nadeem told the AFP news agency.

On Monday the Taleban lost ground to opposition forces in heavy fighting in the north of the country.

Northern Alliance fighters, under the command of General Abdul Rashid Dostum, were said to be within 30km (19 miles) of the strategic city of Mazar-i-Sharif.

There has been no comment from the Taleban and the opposition claims could not be independently verified.



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 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Kate Clark
"The opposition now believes it can retake large parts of Afghanistan"
Haron Amin, Northern Alliance spokesman
says they need the support of the international community

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23 Sep 01 | South Asia
19 Sep 01 | South Asia
25 Sep 01 | South Asia
19 Sep 01 | South Asia
17 Sep 01 | South Asia
23 Sep 01 | South Asia
25 Sep 01 | South Asia
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