Taliban ‘executes 22 unarmed Afghan commandos’ after they surrendered as Biden’s pullout sparks criticism

Taliban has called the videos fake and said – without evidence – they still have the captured soldiers

Shweta Sharma
Wednesday 14 July 2021 10:59 BST
Armed supporters of former Mujahideen commander Khan, stand guard on a roadside checkpoint as they vow to fight side by side with the Afghan security forces to defend their regions
Armed supporters of former Mujahideen commander Khan, stand guard on a roadside checkpoint as they vow to fight side by side with the Afghan security forces to defend their regions (EPA)

In a shocking incident purportedly captured on camera, Taliban fighters executed 22 surrendering members of Afghan special forces who had run out of ammunition, according to reports.

The video obtained by CNN shows Afghan soldiers emerging from a building in a public square with their arms in the air as some men wielding guns screamed, “surrender, commandos, surrender.” Soon, gunfire shots rang out as cries of "Allahu Akhbar" are heard.

Nearly two dozen commandos were allegedly executed in a town market of Dawlat Abad in Faryab province on 16 June, reports said.

The Taliban has denied carrying out the execution to CNN, saying the videos are fake and they still have the captured soldiers from Faryab province. They called it propaganda of government so that people do not surrender.

However, the Red Cross and the Afghan Ministry of Defense have confirmed the 22 deaths. The defence ministry denied that the members were in detention and said they have been killed.

An eyewitness told the news outlet that the commandos had run out of ammunition and received no air support or reinforcement after fierce fighting of about two hours with the Taliban.

Warning: the video could be disturbing to some

The video emerges even as the Taliban continue to make significant territorial gains in Afghanistan with at least 212 districts in their control, according to an assessment by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Long War. The Afghan government controls 70 districts while 116 remain contested.

Even as Joe Biden set 11 September as the deadline for the US’s exit from the country, a vast majority of troops have already left.

The viral video sparked concerns from human rights groups and intensified criticism of Joe Biden’s government. Questions are being raised by members of opposition in the US over the rapid pullout of troops from conflict-ridden Afghanistan after nearly 20 years of war.

"This deeply disturbing footage is horrific and gives insight into the increasingly desperate situation enveloping in Afghanistan. What we are witnessing is the cold-blooded murder of surrendering soldiers -- a war crime," Amnesty International UK said.

Republicans are aiming at Mr Biden for exit of troops from Afghanistan amid clashes between Taliban and Afghanistan security forces and fears of reemergence of al Qaeda and ISIS in the country.

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday described Mr Biden’s troops' withdrawal as a “reckless rush for the exits” and “a global embarrassment.”

"President Biden and his team are desperate to duck hard questions about Afghanistan,” Mr McConnell said. “But the American people deserve answers. They deserve to understand the risks of this trajectory and how the commander in chief plans to keep us safe against a terrorist enemy that his own senior advisers admit will be allowed to regroup thanks to his actions.”

Republican representative from Illinois Adam Kinzinger, also a US Air Force veteran who took missions in Afghanistan, called the video “horrible-yet.”

"This is horrible-yet it’s the reality of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. Removing the peacekeepers and leaving the Afghan people without support is a grave mistake, Mr President," he said in a tweet.

Army General Austin "Scott" Miller, who has relinquished his post as the top US commander in Afghanistan, previously said, "civil war is certainly a path that can be visualised if it continues on the trajectory it’s on."

Mr Biden also acknowledged last week that a continued presence of military in Afghanistan would not alter the future of the country but said the Afghan people must decide their own fate.

But the US’s departure has forced Kabul to seek help from external partners such as Russia, and China to carry out anti-terrorism operations in the region.

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