(Kabul) The famous warlord Abdul Rachid Dostom has returned to Afghanistan, his entourage announced on Thursday as the Taliban increased pressure on his stronghold of Sheberghan (north) and several other major cities.
Posted on Aug 5, 2021 at 9:59 am
Marshal Dostom, who had been in Turkey for several months, presumably for treatment, arrived in Kabul on Wednesday evening, where he met with senior officials to discuss the situation in Sheberghan, capital of Jawzjan province, AFP told one their spokesman, Ehsan Nero. .
According to the source, Mr Dostom was now waiting to “meet President Ashraf Ghani”, whose Vice-President he had been between 2014 and 2020, before supporting Abdullah Abdullah, the rival of the head of state, during the last presidential election.
Famous for its barbarism
Abdul Rachid Dostom, 67, a powerful ethnic Uzbek leader, is known for his shifting loyalty and barbarism. Despite the war crimes accused of him, including the suffocation of 2,000 containerized Taliban in 2001, he retains strong political capital that he has always denied.
Should their stronghold of Sheberghan fall into the hands of the Taliban, it would be another setback for the government, which recently called on former warlords and various militias to curb the insurgent advance.
Over the past three months, the Taliban have occupied vast rural areas and key border posts in a lightning strike in favor of the withdrawal of international forces, which is expected to be completed by August 31.
After encountering weak resistance in the countryside, they have been directing their offensives on large metropolitan areas and surrounding several provincial capitals for the last few days.
Dozens of civilians killed
They penetrated far into the city of Lashkar Gah (south), capital of Helmand province, where the army counter-attacked Wednesday evening and increased shelling on Thursday after urging civilians to flee.
These, caught in the fighting, have already paid a heavy price for the conflict in Lashkar Gah. The United Nations Mission in Afghanistan (Unama) announced on Tuesday that at least 40 civilians were killed and 118 injured in the past 24 hours.
The Taliban have also been fighting government troops on the outskirts of Kandahar (south) and Herat (west), the second and third largest cities in Afghanistan.
The European Union called on Thursday for “an urgent, full and permanent ceasefire” and condemned the intensification of violence by the Taliban, who promised new targeted attacks after targeting the Defense Minister in Kabul on Tuesday.