Within the past twenty-four hours another 1,500 Taliban soldiers under the command of field commander Hashmi Habibi, who held the positions at the approaches to Mazar-i-Sharif, joined the Northern Alliance. This was reported on Tuesday in an interview given to the newspaper New York Times by Deputy Defence Minister of the Northern Alliance Atikulla Baryalai. He also said that his joining the Alliance Habibi will declare on Tuesday through the Iranian Radio Meshed. This is already the third time in the past week when a Taliban commander with his soldiers join the Afghan opposition. According to Baryalai, within the past twenty-four hours of its offensive on Mazar-i-Sharif, the Alliance's troops seized two towns - Marmol and Sheridian situated at the southern approaches to Mazar-i-Sharif. Baryalai also said that in the southern direction the Northern Alliance advanced considerably into the region of the town Sari-Pul in the Samangan Province. According to him, within the past twenty-four hours the troops of the Alliance's field commander Ismail Khan captured also the town of Farsi in the province of Herat and are moving towards the town of Shindand where a big Air Force base is situated.
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