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Who's who in fighting Taliban

Anti-Taliban forces include a loose collection of militias, led by regional warlords. The leaders include:

MOHAMMED FAHIM: An ethnic Tajik who served as intelligence chief under former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani. He was chosen as the successor of Gen. Ahmed Shah Massood, the legendary military leader assassinated days before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. His troops have entered Kabul.

RASHID DOSTUM: An ethnic Uzbek who hails from Mazar-e-Sharif, the strategic city in northwest Afghanistan. Considered a wild card for his history of switching loyalties between the former Soviet-backed government to the Taliban to the Northern Alliance, Dostum commands the respect of most Uzbeks, who make up an estimated 10 percent of the country. His forces now control Mazar-e-Sharif.

ISMAIL KHAN: An ethnic Tajik who was an anti-Soviet hero and the former governor in Herat, the major western region bordering Iran. A member of Fahim's Jamiat-e-Islami party, Khan has troops that routed the Taliban from Herat over the weekend.

KARIM KHALILI: The leader of the country's ethnic Hazara population, who are Shiite Muslims instead of Sunnis, like the rest of the country. A legendary anti-Soviet fighter, Khalili has his base of support in the west, near the Iranian border.

HAMID KARZAI: The chief of the southern tribe called Popolzai. Karzai, who has received U.S. support in recent weeks, is the official representative of former Afghan King Mohammad Zaher Shah, a Pashtun. Karzai initially supported the Taliban movement, but after the assassination of his father in Peshawar, Pakistan, two years ago, Karzai's stance hardened against the harshly fundamentalist militia group.

Ex-political leaders

MOHAMMAD ZAHER SHAH: The former king who lives in exile in Rome. U.S. and U.N. officials have flocked to him in recent weeks in an effort to pave the way for a unity coalition. A Pashtun, the main ethnic tribe aligned with the Taliban, the aged king could broaden the base of a future Afghan government.

BURHANUDDIN RABBANI: A Tajik and former president forced into exile after the Taliban took control in 1996. Formally, he still is regarded by the U.N. as president, but his regime was marked by brutality and he lacks influence among the warlords in Afghanistan.

PIR SYED AHMAD GAILANI: Another prominent member of the Pashtun tribe, Gailani is a Western-friendly moderate and intellectual who has called for U.N. intervention in Afghanistan.


ethnic composition

PASHTUN: 43 percent

TAJIK: 27 percent

UZBEK: 10 percent

HAZARA: 10 percent

OTHERS: 10 percent

Troop level estimates

UNITED STATES: More than 50,000 in region

BRITAIN: 4,200

NORTHERN ALLIANCE: 15,000-20,000

TALIBAN: 40,000-50,000

AL-QAIDA: 17,000 (prewar)

_ Sources: BBC, Jane's, Institute of Oriental Studies in Moscow