“Districts 9 and 5 have fallen. Hilmand prison was surrounded and all Taliban and Islamic State prisoners were released. The central district has fallen. Taliban flag on the roof of government headquarters, ”said a resident of Herat at 7:15 p.m. (12:15 p.m. EDT) Thursday (12).
Twenty minutes later, another inhabitant said the sentence: “It’s definitely fallen. There is no hope. “
From Tehran, Iranian journalist and researcher Fariborz Mohammadkhani spoke to acquaintances in Afghanistan’s third largest city and sent Folha, in real time, news of the Taliban conquest of the city.
It is the largest city taken so far by the fundamentalist group, which already dominates 80% of the entire Afghan territory, according to the government itself. On Thursday, the United States announced that it was preparing to evacuate American citizens to the country, including military and embassy officials, predicting the collapse of Kabul in 30 days.
Located in the west of the country, Herat is the capital of the province of the same name and is about 800 kilometers from Kabul, near the border with Iran.
The insurgents had been trying to enter the town for weeks, but government forces, together with a local militia, managed to resist.
Two weeks ago, the Taliban attempted to seize the international airport, located 10 km from Herat, but were defeated. On Wednesday night (11), however, the offense was too strong.
“Unfortunately, they took over a bridge that belonged to the security forces after two fights. We could not stop them and they ended up entering the city through this breach, ”said the spokesperson for the popular forces that were formed to defend the city, a teacher who identified himself as Ahmadi.
The militia is led by Amir Ismail Khan, a veteran of the war against the Soviets who was once a minister in the country.
Khan’s house was surrounded by the Taliban as soon as they entered the city. “Amir is fighting and is still alive. But we have no news from the area in which he is currently located.
According to Ahmadi, the insurgents used heavy weapons, which were handed over to them by government forces, which surrendered. There were then a hundred dead and wounded. “Efforts have been made to reduce the number of civilian casualties and most have left the war zone,” he said.
“Almost no reinforcement [do governo] arrived in Herat, except for a very limited period. Only the soldiers already active in the area were present to defend the city ”, he lamented, also criticizing“ the international community, led by the Americans, which should have a humanitarian responsibility towards the Afghan people ”.
“The population is disappointed. Popular forces were their only hope.
Meanwhile, Iranian Mohammadkhani was trying to contact Jaelany Farhad, Herat government communications official, who gave Folha an interview on Family 6. and tried a wild road.
During the conversation on the 6th, he said locals were panicking, both the older ones, who remembered the oppression when the Taliban ruled the city 20 years ago, and the younger ones, who didn’t. had never lived through a war. “If they win, it will be a massacre. A humanitarian catastrophe, ”he said.