The Northern Alliance have launched an offensive on Kunduz, the administrative center of a province of the same name that borders on Tajikistan, simultaneously from three directions. The town, which is known as the last stronghold of Taliban forces in the northwestern part of Afghanistan, houses a 7,000-strong group of Taliban soldiers and mercenaries from Pakistan, Chechnya and Arab countries. Assisted by US aviation, the anti-Taliban coalition attacked Taliban's positions outside Khanabad, a town 20 km away from Kunduz, on Thursday, reported Qatar's Al-Jazeera TV channel. Talks between representatives of General Dostum of the anti-Taliban coalition and commanders of Taliban's Talukan Front, held in Mazar-i-Sharif, the unofficial capital of Northern Afghanistan /also known as the Afghan Turkistan/, on the night of November 23 came to nothing. The alliance repeatedly issued ultimatums to the Taleban, demanding that they lay down weapons by a certain deadline and promising amnesty for Afghanis but not for foreign mercenaries.
President Putin invited Chinese leader Xi Jinping to visit Russia during a telephone conversation on June 15