Afghanistan Fighting for the Road to Khost

Rebel and government forces wage their fiercest battle in years

The town is little more than an overgrown village, with ramshackle buildings huddled along dirt streets. Yet the road to Khost (pop. 15,000) was the scene last week of some of the most furious fighting in the Soviet Union's eight- year drive to crush Muslim rebels in Afghanistan. Although accounts of the battle differed, all reports indicated that Soviet and Afghan forces had mounted a desperate effort to break the latest guerrilla siege of Khost. Supported by Soviet Sukhoi-25 attack jets, an estimated 20,000 troops repeatedly struck rebel positions along the 50-mile highway that connects Khost and the provincial capital of...

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