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Successful Afghan guerrilla leader disputes bleak reports

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Western media reports suggest the Soviet forces are gaining the upper hand in their war against the guerrillas in Afghanistan. But in an interview in November in Takhar, Ahmed Shah Massoud, widely regarded as the most successful guerrilla commander fighting the Soviet and Afghan government forces, dismissed the reports.

``Although our fighters have been subjected to a number of heavy attacks this year, we have been able to cope. Our area of operation has expanded so that we are now coordinating our activities in five provinces of the north: Parwan, Kapisa, Baghlan, Takhar, and Kunduz. Areas of Badakhshan and Kabul province are also receiving our attention.

``A practical example of how successful this coordination has been took place in the summer when the government garrison at Fakhar fell to our combined forces from five different valleys. This was a major achievement and follows on from a coordinated attack on the main air base and surrounding posts in Kunduz,'' Mr. Massoud said.

Two weeks after the interview the major garrison at Nahrin in Baghlan also fell to Massoud's men.

Large quantities of weapons are often captured in these operations, which Massoud believes reduce the guerrillas' reliance on outside help. However, with United States government officials disclosing that the Reagan administration is sending $400 million in covert military aid to the guerrillas this year, including Stinger antiaircraft missiles, was Massoud receiving outside help?

``To date, no Stinger missiles have been sent. As for the quantity of weapons we have received, the amount is small and mostly in the form of light weapons. The reason for this is because they are supplied through the Pakistanis, and the Pakistani generals take the good new weapons.''

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