WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Navy welcomed one aircraft carrier home Saturday and prepared to deploy another to the war in Afghanistan Saturday. President Bush declared that the Taliban's days of repressive rule ``are drawing to a close.''
American B-52 bombers and other warplanes attacked Taliban positions north of Kabul. A day after capturing the important crossroads city of Mazar-e-Sharif, anti-Taliban troops claimed they seized three provincial capitals.
Also, the Pentagon said it had halted the search for Bryant L. Davis and declared the fireman apprentice dead. Davis, 20, of Chicago, had fallen overboard Wednesday from the USS Kitty Hawk, one of three aircraft carriers in the Arabian Sea from which bombing missions are being launched into Afghanistan.
It was not known how Davis went overboard.
In Norfolk, Va., crowds cheered and sang to welcome home the 5,000 sailors on the USS Enterprise, the first carrier deployed to the anti-terror war after the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington.
In San Diego, the USS John C. Stennis was preparing to leave for the region Monday. It will not add to the 50,000 troops deployed there, but rather replace the returning USS Carl Vinson, the Pentagon says.
At the United Nations, Bush told members of the General Assembly that all countries should help in the battle against terrorism.
``The time for action has now arrived,'' he said, opening two days of diplomacy aimed at getting more support for the campaign.
``The Afghan people do not deserve their present rulers,'' Bush said. ``I make this promise to all the victims of that regime: The Taliban's days of harboring terrorists, and dealing in heroin, and brutalizing women are drawing to a close.''
The State Department said Saturday that officials would beginning moving humanitarian assistance from Uzbekistan to northern Afghanistan. ``The fact that this process can now get underway is a direct result of the changing security situation on the Uzbekistan-Afghanistan border,'' the department said in a press release.
A spokesman for one of the Afghan opposition commanders, Gen. Rashid Dostum, claimed U.S. Green Berets participated in the battle Friday to take Mazar-e-Sharif. A senior defense official in Washington said he could not confirm that.
Philip Smith, Dostum's Washington representative, said the U.S. special forces, along with CIA operatives and Turkish troops, were working with Dostum, an Uzbek commander who once controlled Mazar-e-Sharif.
In addition to the offensive at Mazar-e-Sharif, fighting has been ebbing and flowing in the western part of the country, in the northeastern part of the country and north of Kabul, officials said.