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Taliban fighters executed nearly two dozen unarmed members of the Afghan Special Forces, who were surrendering after running out of ammunition, newly revealed video shows.
The video obtained by CNN shows the Afghan soldiers emerging from a building, after the Taliban called out “surrender, commandos, surrender” in the town of Dawlat Abad in Faryab province, near the Afghanistan border with Turkmenistan, in June.
Then gunfire erupts amid cries of “Allahu Akhbar” — God is Great.
A witness to the slaughter told CNN the commandos were gunned down in cold blood.
“The commandos were surrounded by the Taliban. Then they brought them into the middle of the street and shot them all,” the witness said.
Others in the town said the Afghan forces entered with several tanks, but ran out of ammunition after about two hours of fierce fighting with the Taliban.
And with the US military drawing down its troops to meet an end of August deadline for a withdrawal, the Afghan soldiers received no air support as they normally would from the US military.
Another witness watched the scene play out from a small hole in the wall of his shop.
“I was so scared when the Taliban started shooting the commandos. On that day everyone was scared. I was hiding in my shop,” the person said.
The special forces troops “were not fighting. They all put their hands up and surrendered, and (the Taliban) were just shooting,” he said, adding that the Taliban fighters may have been foreign.
The video showed the bodies strewn across an outdoor market.
A voice off-camera in the video can be heard: “Take everything off them.”
Another says: “Open his body armor.”
A Taliban militant can be seen on the video removing equipment from the body of one of the commandos.
The Red Cross said the bodies of 22 commandos were retrieved.
Three days after the fighting in Dawlat Abad on June 16, the Taliban posted a video showing military trucks and weapons they seized.
The group 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 told CNN that they had taken into custody the 24 commandos captured during the fighting in Faryab province, but showed no evidence to support their claims, and called the video showing the executions fake government propaganda intended to encourage Afghan troops not to surrender.
The Afghan Ministry of Defense confirmed the commandos had been killed.
The release of the video comes as the Taliban continues to win territory in Afghanistan, especially in the northern provinces, as the US troops’ withdrawal continues.
The militant group claims to control nearly 200 districts across Afghanistan with little or no resistance from the Afghan army.
In a statement Monday, the Taliban said “thousands of soldiers” had “defected and embraced the open arms of the Islamic Emirate.”
Afghan special forces are trained by the US and are better equipped than regular units, the CNN report said.
But as the Taliban increases military operations the commandos are finding themselves stretched thin and are now without the support of the US military.
The father of one of the commandos killed in Dawlat Abad said his son, Sohrab Azimi, who trained in the US and was expected to marry his American fiancee next month, called in air support but it never came.
”Anyone would be angry if that happened to their son. Why didn’t they support the operation and why did someone tell the Taliban they were coming?” asked Hazir Azimi, a retired general.
“Afghanistan lost someone who was educated, who was the future — I am so sad for his loss,” he told CNN.
Azimi said he holds the Taliban in contempt.
“They don’t even respect dead bodies and soldiers who have surrendered,” he said.
Hamdullah Mohib, Afghanistan’s national security adviser, blamed the lack of air support for the defeat of Afghan forces.
“The reality is that these were areas largely surrounded that couldn’t be defended, they needed to be supplied by air, and those soldiers ran out of ammunition,” Mohib said.
“There was a vacuum created as a result of the retrograde, but we’re trying to fill that gap,” he added.
Despite assurances from US military leaders and members of the Biden administration that Afghanistan will not fall to the Taliban, residents of Dawlat Abad said that’s not what they’ve experienced.
They told CNN that, after taking control, the Taliban prohibited girls from attending school and forbade women to go to the market unless accompanied by a man.
“The Taliban said that if foreigners left Afghanistan they would make peace. How long will they continue this killing of brothers in our country?” one witness to the shooting told CNN.
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