22 elite soldiers from the Afghanistan Special Forces, trained by the United States Military were executed by the Talban on 16 June 2021 in Dawlatabad, a district in Afghanistan’s Faryab province, close to Afghanistan’s border with Turkmenistan. The crack team of commandos were massacred after they had surrendered following two hours of fierce fighting, following which their ammunition ran out. According to reports, the Afghan special forces men had exited the building with their hands up in order to broker a surrender when the Taliban opened fire and killed the surrendering troops, videos of which recently began to flood social media platforms.
A video uploaded by ‘Funker530’ showed the Talban fighters ordering the Afghan commandos to lay down their arms. “Surrender, commandos, surrender!” can be heard in the video before the Taliban fighters resorted to fire indiscriminately upon the soldiers. The video further showed that a villager pleaded with the Taliban fighters to spare the soldiers and was heard saying, “Don’t shoot them, don’t shoot them, I beg you don’t shoot them,” before going on to say, “How are you Pashtun and killing Afghans?” The anonymous source who leaked video to Funker530 said they hoped the footage would persuade army units that surrender is not necessarily a safe option.
Local residents spoke to CNN following the aftermath of the massacre, with one villager quoted as saying, “The commandos had called for air and ground support, but none came. Then they surrendered but the Taliban just shot them.” Afghanistan’s Ministry of Defence has confirmed that their troops were killed on the spot, disputing the Taliban’s claim that they had taken 24 Afghan commandos into custody. The International Red Cross has confirmed the retrieval of 22 bodies and various human rights groups have labeled this as a “war crime”.
One of the casualties was 32-year-old Sohrab Azimi, a junior Captain and the son of a prominent retired Afghanistan General Hazir Azimi. The Special Forces officer had trained in the United States of America and was due to marry his American fiancé this month. Gen. Hazir told CNN that his son was responsible for calling in air support, which he did however it did not arrive.
“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? Afghanistan lost someone who was educated, who was the future – I am so sad for his loss,” he was quoted saying to CNN. The grieving father had nothing contempt for his sons’ killers, “They don’t even respect dead bodies and soldiers who have surrendered,” he told the network in disgust.
“The Afghan people are determined to defend our country, our people, and our values,” said Hamdullah Mohib, Afghanistan’s National Security Advisor on Monday. “There will be no takeover by the Taliban,” he added. However, despite reassurances by the NSA, the Taliban claim to have gained control of 80-85% of Afghanistan after retaking the vast countryside government forces. However, conflict trackers paint a more modest 30 percent takeover by the Taliban as the military has largely abandoned the rural areas in order to concentrate on urban environs. Despite the varying figures, security experts have described the situation as “grim,” with the future of the country left in question.