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DATE=8/1/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=AFGHAN FIGHTING - UPDATE(L-O) NUMBER=2-252375 BYLINE=SARAH HORNER DATELINE=ISLAMABAD INTERNET=YES CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: In Afghanistan, both sides are claiming control of a major air-base as heavy fighting continues between the Taleban and the Northern Alliance. Sarah Horner reports from Islamabad. TEXT: News agencies in Afghanistan quote Taleban sources as saying Taleban fighters have taken the strategic Bagram air-base, 50-kilometers north of Afghanistan's capital, Kabul. Bagram is the only air- strip in the area and is a key supply route for opposition commander Ahmad Shah Massood. Other reports from Afghanistan quote an opposition spokesman (Dr. Abdullah) who says opposition forces lost control of Bagram, but recaptured the air-base. There is no independent confirmation of which side controls Bagram. The opposition spokesman says fierce fighting is taking place at the junction of the so-called -- Old and New Roads -- close to Bagram. Taleban sources also say there is fighting there. The two roads begin in Kabul's northern suburbs and join 60-kilometers north of the capital to form the main road leading to northern Afghanistan. The Taleban and the opposition Northern Alliance have fought over this ground several times since the Taleban captured Kabul from the Alliance three years ago. In the past, when under pressure, Commander Massood has moved back into his Panjshir Valley headquarters, 90-kilometers north of Kabul. The Panjshir has many natural defenses. Soviet troops were never able to occupy the valley during their 10-year occupation of Afghanistan that ended in 1989. Taleban forces also have not been able to penetrate the Panjshir. The Taleban, which controls 90-percent of Afghanistan launched an offensive last Wednesday in an effort to bring all the country under its strict Islamic rule. The United Nations Security Council has appealed to both sides to stop fighting. U-N sponsored peace talks between the Taleban and the Northern Alliance ended two weeks ago with little result. (SIGNED) NEB/SLH/RAE 01-Aug-1999 10:48 AM LOC (01-Aug-1999 1448 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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