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Northern alliance says it expects arms deliveries from Iran, Russia


JABAL-US-SERAJ, Afghanistan (AP) _ The anti-Taliban alliance in northern Afghanistan said Wednesday it expects fresh arms deliveries from Russia and Iran and desperately needs humanitarian aid to cope with a flood of refugees fleeing Taliban-controlled areas.

Russia and Iran ``have been supportive in the past and have confirmed their commitments,'' spokesman Abdullah, who uses one name, told reporters inside northern Afghanistan.

Asked just what the opposition needs, Abdullah replied: ``It's a war and we need everything that is needed in a war.'' He said the northern alliance expected unconditional support from those nations that agree to help.

Abdullah said the opposition is expecting huge loads of humanitarian aid as well.

``There is a big influx of refugees from Taliban-controlled areas and if we don't receive humanitarian aid in the coming days it will be difficult for them to survive once the winter sets in,'' Abdullah said.

Cold weather, rain and snow can be expected in Afghanistan in the coming weeks.

Abdullah also said representatives of the United States and the northern alliance had been having ``regular and daily meetings'' outside Afghanistan. He declined to provide further details. He expressed readiness to meet with U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who is expected in neighboring Uzbekistan at the end of this week.

The United States has been building up its forces around Afghanistan, where the ruling Taliban are sheltering Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect in the Sept. 11 terror attacks in Washington and New York.

The United States has warned the Taliban to hand over bin Laden or face the consequences. The northern alliance, as the anti-Taliban opposition is also known, is hoping for U.S. strikes that would help in their struggle against the Taliban.

Opposition troops regularly exchange fire with Taliban fighters in the region around Jabal-us-Saraj north of Kabul. Much further north, Russian border guards in Tajikistan reported fighting inside Afghanistan between Taliban forces and opposition fighters about 120 miles south of Dushanbe, the Tajik capital.

Afghan opposition representatives and U.S. officials have discussed ``all aspects'' of cooperation, including coordinating ``efforts to eradicate terrorism,'' Abdullah said.

Abdullah said the northern alliance knew exactly where Osama bin Laden was hiding but that he would not provide this information to reporters. He also said he thought a U.S.-led attack would take place in ``a matter of days.''

In addition to refugees fleeing Taliban-controlled areas, Abdullah reported large-scale defections from Taliban forces to the northern alliance.
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