An Afghan warlord known as the “Lion of Herat” was captured by Taliban insurgents when they seized control of the country’s third-largest city on Friday amid the withdrawal of US troops ordered by President Biden.
Prominent militia commander Ismail Khan, who’s believed to be in his 70s, was handed over to the Taliban following fierce combat in Herat, provincial council member Ghulam Habib Hashimi told Reuters.
The provincial governor and various security officials were also taken into Taliban custody as part of the deal, Hashimi said.
“The Taliban agreed that they will not pose any threat or harm to the government officials who surrendered,” he said.
An unconfirmed video clip posted on social media reportedly shows Khan under house arrest and seated in a chair while talking to a Taliban commander in a large meeting room.
He was surrounded by several men holding assault rifles.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid confirmed Khan’s capture, Reuters said, and an unconfirmed document in Arabic also reportedly said that he agreed to join the extremist Islamic group.
Khan is a veteran fighter who took part in the uprising that sparked the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
He returned to the front lines a month ago to defend Herat, population 600,000, against Taliban insurgents who have since seized control of about two-thirds of the country.
Hashimi described Herat as a “ghost town,” saying, “Families have either left or are hiding in their houses.”
The city, located near the Iranian border, is a hub of economic activity and a historic center of Persian culture.
Herat was among four provincial capitals overrun Friday by the Taliban, who ruled Afghanistan for five years and provided a home base for the late al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden until the US invaded in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
With Post wires