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Burns: Northern Afghanistan update

(CNN) The U.S.-led air strikes on Afghanistan destroyed or damaged military installations throughout the country. The Northern Alliance says it's loosened the Taliban's control of key regions. Meanwhile, refugees seek shelter away from major cities and towns.

CNN Correspondent Chris Burns is following developments from northern Afghanistan.

BURNS: We're waiting to see if Night Six of the airstrikes will be as violent as the one last night, in which U.S.-led forces struck out early in positions around Kabul. But they also struck, as the Northern Alliance said, in an area north of the capital, in an area that is just south of the front-line, a very mountainous area called Kapisa Province.

That is an indication that U.S.-led forces are striking against Taliban ground troops. That is a hope and a wish of the Northern Alliance before it can even think about proceeding toward Kabul.

There are several fronts also in the north. That is where the Northern Alliance troops are preparing themselves for further attacks and offenses, including one province that includes a very important supply line that they hope to get hold of before the winter sets in.

At the same time as these airstrikes and fighting continue, the refugee population increases on several fronts. The refugees are coming up from Kabul, and also fleeing from Mazar-e-Sharif. That is a very key town that the Taliban are holding that the Northern Alliance would like to get hold of. As all this fighting goes in very remote areas, it's making life very difficult, probably deadly up in the northern area.

CNN: British and U.S. officials constantly say that the airstrikes impact the cohesion of the Taliban regime. Have you seen an evidence of that?

BURNS: Not from here, although the Northern Alliance, if they're to be believed, have repeatedly said that there are defections among commanders, that they are negotiating among other Taliban commanders who might be breaking with them. And there are these Mujahedeen forces that had allied themselves with the Taliban back when the Taliban took power five years ago.

Reports suggest some of those groups are splitting away from the Taliban. It's very difficult to confirm from our end, but what the Northern Alliance hopes is that they can increasingly get these defections, and perhaps they can seize more land without firing a shot.


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