Afghan Commander, Ismail Khan, Captured By Taliban After Fall Of Herat

The ‘Lion of Herat’ returned to the front lines in the western city last month amid the growing threat from the Taliban.

Afghan Commander, Ismail Khan, Captured By Taliban After Fall Of Herat
Afghan commander and former mujahideen leader Ismail Khan addresses a gathering at his house in Herat

 

 

The Taliban has captured Ismail Khan, the prominent local commander who fought on behalf of the Afghan government in the city of Herat. Khan, who was one of the highest profile commanders fighting for the Afghan government, was also handed over with the provincial governor and security officials as part of an agreement

 

with the Taliban, said the provincial council member Ghulam Habib Hashimi on the Friday, according to the media. He gave no further details of the agreement too. Khan’s capture, which was later confirmed by Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, also comes amid an offensive that has seen18 provincial capitals fall from

 

 

government control in just over a week. Taliban fighters also entered the city of Herat, a major urban centre in Afghanistan’s west also near the border of Iran and the country’s third most populous city, on Thursday. Photos and videos showing Khan, also believed to be in his 70s, apparently in the hands of Taliban fighters, were widely

 

 

shared on the social media, although they could not immediately be verified. A spokesman for Khan later told the media the commander had been allowed to return to his residence following negotiations with the Taliban. Khan is widely known as the Lion of Herat, with his involvement in the country’s wars stretching back to

 

 

the anti-government uprising that helped trigger the 1979 Soviet intervention, which he then fought against throughout the 1980s. His return to the front lines in July was a clear sign of the growing threat to the city, and his fighters had been credited with blunting the advance of the Taliban. One official told Reuters that

 

 

Afghan government forces had agreed to withdraw from Herat airport, 15km (nine miles) from the city, and the Army Corps commander’s headquarters, the last centres under their control. However, other sources said Afghan forces were still at the airport as of 1pm local time (08:30 GMT) on the Friday. The Taliban agreed that

 

 

Afghan fighters and supporters of Ismail Khan gather at his home in July 

 

 

they will not pose any threat or harm to the government officials who surrendered; Hashimi. He added the city had become a ghost town amid fighting. Families have either left or are hiding in their houses, said Hashimi.