The Taliban religious army pushed ahead Monday in its drive to control all of Afghanistan, closing in on a major opposition stronghold a day after it captured a nearby town.

Though the Taliban met little resistance when it took Shebergan on Sunday, the militia will get a fight in Mazar-e-Sharif, a northern alliance spokesman said Monday."Our forces are ready to defend Mazar-e-Sharif. If the Taliban try to capture Mazar-e-Sharif, they will face heavy resistance," said Zabet Saliy, spokesman for anti-Taliban military leader Ahmed Shah Masood. "They will repeat the mistake they committed last year."

Taliban fighters have been bolstered by a series of recent victories and appear poised to capture the remaining northern part of Afghanistan they do not control.