Gun-toting Taliban fighters were seen on video lounging in the opulent palace of an Afghanistan warlord after taking over Mazar-i-Sharif, one of the country’s last key cities to fall to the rapidly-moving insurgents, according to a report.
The surreal scene of the insurrectionists relaxing on gold-plated furniture and admiring possessions in the ornate home of military leader Abdul Rashid Dostum — a US ally — was captured on footage circulating on social media Saturday, according to Saudi Arabi-based news channel Al Arabiya.
Dostum, a former Afghan vice president, is one of two notorious strongmen in the region who fled over the border into Uzbekistan Saturday amid the Taliban’s encroachment.
The 67-year-old militia leader and his cohort, former governor Atta Mohammad Noor, are among the Taliban’s biggest foes and have been key players in Afghanistan since the 1980s the outlet reported.
Both had vowed to protect Mazar-i-Sharif, the country’s fourth-largest city, along with Afghan security forces.
“They will never escape. They will all be killed. I will turn northern Afghanistan into the graveyard of the Taliban,” Dostum had reportedly vowed.
The fall of the city handed the Taliban control over all of northern Afghanistan. Noor had been commanding militia forces when the city was captured, according to the report. He said on Twitter that both he and Dostum were safe, while blaming a “conspiracy” for the fall of the north to the Taliban.
On Sunday, the Taliban seized Jalalabad, the last major city besides Kabul that was still held by the country’s central government.
As fighters quickly moved in on the nation’s capital, President Biden deployed an additional 1,000 troops to Afghanistan to help evacuated American and allied personnel from the rapidly falling country.
With Post wires
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