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Saturday, 10 November, 2001, 19:51 GMT
Blair hails Mazar-e-Sharif gain
Tony Blair
Tony Blair: "There is still a great deal to"
The Northern Alliance capture of the strategically important Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif shows momentum is firmly with the allies attacking the Taleban, Tony Blair has said.

The Prime Minister told a meeting of Labour's National Policy Forum at the party's headquarters at Millbank, Westminster, it had been a key point in the conflict.

"The momentum is obviously with the international coalition, the Northern Alliance having taken Mazar-e-Sharif and now with the possibility of securing the northern part of Afghanistan," he said.

But Mr Blair also warned that Osama Bin Laden would use "any weapons of mass destruction" he could.

We have got to work on the other aspects, the military campaign, the political campaign and of course, what is happening on the humanitarian side

Tony Blair

"That is one reason why it is so important that we carry on with the action we are taking to make sure we close down that whole terrorist network in Afghanistan," he said.

But Mr Blair added: "We have got to work on the other aspects, the military campaign, the political campaign and of course, what is happening on the humanitarian side to make sure that we bring this to a successful conclusion."

He said the continuing air attacks were targeting Taleban troops "to make sure that the humanitarian passage is there so we can get food into people inside Afghanistan".

Mr Blair also spoke of developing the diplomatic momentum and building international support for the coalition against terrorism.

"All these things are coming into place - but there is still a great deal to do," he concluded.

No confirmation

According to Northern Alliance spokesman Ashraf Nadeem, their forces entered Mazar-e-Sharif and took over the airport earlier on Friday.

He told Reuters by telephone: "Taleban forces are fleeing towards Kabul."

There is no independent confirmation of the claim, but earlier the Alliance reported that the Taleban appeared to have abandoned the city.

The Pentagon has said the situation is fluid but "encouraging".

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