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Taliban fighters execute 22 Afghan commandos as they try to surrender
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 13 - 07 - 2021

Over clear but unsteady video, the words ring out: "Surrender, commandos, surrender." Several men emerge from a building; they are clearly unarmed.
Gunfire erupts. At least a dozen men are seen shot to death amid cries of "Allahu Akhbar" — God is Great.
The victims were members of an Afghan Special Forces unit: their executioners, the Taliban. The summary killings took place on June 16 in the town of Dawlat Abad in Faryab province, close to Afghanistan's border with Turkmenistan.
Videos show the commandos' bodies strewn across an outdoor market. After a fierce battle to hold the town, the commandos had run out of ammunition and were surrounded by the Taliban fighters, witnesses said.
In one video, about 45 seconds long, a bystander can be heard saying in Pashto, the local language: "Don't shoot them, don't shoot them, I beg you don't shoot them." The bystander then asks: "How are you Pashtun killing Afghans?" The Pashtuns are the main ethnic group in Afghanistan.
At the end of the video, another voice off-camera says: "Take everything off them."
In another video, a man can be heard saying: "Open his body armor." One fighter can be seen taking equipment off the body of one of the commandos.
The Red Cross confirmed the bodies of 22 commandos were retrieved.
The killing of the soldiers stands in stark contrast to the Taliban's efforts to show it is accepting the surrender of soldiers and, in some instances, paying them to go home as it makes territorial gains across Afghanistan.
The Taliban posted a video three days after the fighting in Dawlat Abad, showing the seizure of military trucks and weapons. The video claimed that "the Washington guards, a CIA specially trained special commando who had been pursuing the Taliban in Dawlat Abad, Faryab, were captured alive by the Taliban, disarmed and handcuffed."
The Taliban said the videos showing the commandos being shot were fake and government propaganda to encourage people not to surrender. A Taliban spokesman said they were still holding 24 commandos who had been captured in Faryab province but provided no evidence.
The Afghan Ministry of Defense denied the Taliban was holding the commandos and told CNN they were killed.
Several witnesses in Dawlat Abad said that the commandos were shot in cold blood.
One man said the commandos arrived in the town with several tanks but ran out of ammunition after two hours of fighting and received no support from the air.
"The commandos were surrounded by the Taliban. Then they brought them into the middle of the street and shot them all," the witness said.
He also suggested some Taliban fighters were not from the region and may have been foreign because he could not understand what they were saying when they spoke between themselves.
A second witness — a shopkeeper in the bazaar where the shooting took place — agreed some of the Taliban sounded foreign. He said the commandos "were not fighting. They all put their hands up and surrendered, and (the Taliban) were just shooting."
Another shopkeeper corroborated this account: "I was so scared when the Taliban started shooting the commandos. On that day everyone was scared. I was hiding in my shop."
He said he watched the shooting unfold through a small hole in the wall.
Local officials have criticized the dispatch of elite commandos to the town with no reinforcement or air cover.
Abdul Ahad Ailbek, a member of Faryab's Provincial Council, said the force that arrived did not know the area, nor which districts the Taliban controlled.
The Taliban claims defections
Across Afghanistan, tens of thousands of civilians have been displaced amid a surge in fighting that followed US President Joe Biden's announcement that all US troops will be withdrawn from the country by Sept. 11.
Since then, the Taliban claims to have taken control of nearly 200 districts across Afghanistan — mostly in the north and north-west. In many areas, they have met little resistance.
In a statement on Monday, the Taliban said "thousands of soldiers" had "defected and embraced the open arms of the Islamic Emirate," which it claims is the true leadership of the Afghan people.
"Nearly two hundred districts were cleansed from their malicious presence," the statement added. — CNN


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