The Northern Alliance (who prefer the title United Front) are a group of factions who had the common goal of toppling the Taliban regime that was formerly in power in Afghanistan. They fought against the Taliban control that had expanded from Kandahar in 1994 to capture most of Afghanistan by September 2001.
In November and December of 2001, the Northern Alliance was successful in advancing to control much of the country, including the capital Kabul. This was facilitated by extensive bombing of Taliban forces and military infrastructure by the United States during the 2001 U.S. Attack on Afghanistan.
Northern Alliance forces previously showed themselves unable to rule effectively, however, turning on each other after they took control in Kabul in 1992 from the Soviet-backed regime. This bloody feuding between forces loyal to President Burhanuddin Rabbani and rival factions ultimately cleared the way for the Taliban conquest in 1996.
Many members are ethnic Tajiks (which may be a factor in Tajikistan's willingness to help the United States in the conflict), Uzbeks and Hazaras - ethnic minorities in Afghanistan. The factions in the Alliance consist of members from the former mujahedin, others from different minority groups and remnants of the former Soviet-backed Communist government.
The Northern Alliance enjoys support from India, while the Taliban were close to Pakistan until the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attack when Pakistan backed off due to pressure and the hope of debt relief.
The political leader of the alliance is Burhanuddin Rabbani. There are several military leaders controlling different factions within the alliance, including Abdul Rashid Dostum, General Mohammed Fahim and Ismail Khan. Ahmed Shah Massoud was the main military leader and an important political figure in the alliance until his death, which was publicly confirmed on September 13, 2001, following an attack by assassins four days before on September 9.
Human rights groups say the Northern Alliance was responsible for brutal excesses during the factional civil strife that raged before the Taliban took over most of the country in 1996.