BAGRAM, Afghanistan (AP) -- U.S. jets pounded Taliban positions Monday near front lines outside the Afghan capital and a key northern city, the Taliban said. The attacks appeared aimed at helping Afghan opposition forces advance on major cities.
In Islamabad, Pakistan, Taliban Ambassador Abdul Salam Zaeef claimed U.S. and British jets attacked a hospital in the western Afghan city of Herat, killing more than 100 people. The report could not be independently confirmed. Britain denied its planes took part in any raid against Herat.
Zaeef also repeated Taliban claims -- denied by the Pentagon -- that Afghan fighters had shot down a U.S. helicopter in southwestern Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, a refugee crisis was building at Pakistan's sealed border with Afghanistan. An Afghan man died of wounds suffered when border guards opened fire to force back up to 15,000 trapped Afghan civilians pushing and pleading for entry.
As the bombing campaign went into its third week, the strikes near front lines suggested the start of a more aggressive American campaign on behalf of northern-based opposition forces facing the fundamentalist Taliban regime.
But it was unclear whether the poorly armed and poorly trained opposition forces would be able to make significant gains against either the capital Kabul or the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif -- something they have been unable to accomplish since the air campaign began Oct 7.
A northern alliance intelligence officer, Motavar, complained that the attacks were not over a wide enough area. "We are satisfied, but we would like a broader bombardment over a larger area," said Motavar, who like many Afghans uses only one name.
"This is very important for us, because they are helping us finish off terrorism," said Haji Gul Rahman, a deputy brigade commander at Bagram north of Kabul.
In the capital, the Taliban's official Bakhtar news agency reported heavy bombing Monday at positions 30 miles to the north.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.