Kabul-Taliban militants have occupied most of Herat, Afghanistan’s third-largest city, and have also captured Ismail Khan, a veteran local commander who leads militia resistance, local officials said Friday. rice field.
The latest collapse of the Taliban-occupied series of major provincial cities in the last few days has hit President Ashraf Ghani’s government just weeks after the withdrawal of US troops.
One official said Afghan government forces had agreed to withdraw from Herat Airport, 15 km (9 miles) from the city, and its last center, Army Command. However, Afghan troops were still at the airport at 1:00 pm local time (Greenwich Mean Time 0830), according to other sources.
“The Taliban have agreed not to pose a threat or harm to the surrendered government officials,” said state legislator Gram Habib Hasimi.
When the battle is over, the streets are quiet in Herat, the main economic center of about 600,000 people near the border with Iran and one of the historical centers of Persian culture for centuries. became.
“The family has left the house or is hiding in the house,” said Hashimi, who described Herat as a “ghost town.”
Herat has seen increasingly fierce fighting with a popular militia group serving with regular army forces as the Taliban pressure on the city increased following the withdrawal of the United States.
Mr. Hashimi told Reuters that the most prominent militia commander, Kahn, who appears to be in his 70s, was handed over to the Taliban by agreement with the governor and security officials. He didn’t know the details of the transaction.
The capture of Khan, confirmed by Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid, provided one of the most powerful symbols of the collapse of urban resistance.
Photos and videos showing prominent commanders, believed to be in the hands of armed groups, were not immediately visible, but were widely shared on social media.
Ismail Khan is widely known as the Herat Lion. His involvement in the war in Afghanistan dates back to the rebel uprising that triggered the Soviet intervention in 1979, and returning to the forefront a month ago reveals an increasing threat to Herat. It was a sign.
By Kabul staff