The Taliban leader who led the attack on an Afghan city was freed by the US along with 5,000 insurgents in a prisoner swap negotiated under the Trump administration
- Taliban commander, Mullah Abdul Ahad, leads deadly attacks on Lashkar Gar was released with 5,000 other detainees under Trump deal
- The US agreed to an exchange where the Afghan government would release up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners and the insurgents would release up to 1,000 prisoners
- Prisoners were asked for assurances that they would not return to the fight, but others are believed to have returned besides Abdul Ahad
- The capital of Helmand province, Lashkar Gar, has been nearly overtaken by the Taliban in recent months
- Families were asked to leave the city yesterday after the local army commander warned them of a major counter-attack to relieve and clear the city.
The Taliban commander who led the attack on the Afghan capital of Helmand province, Lashkar Gar, was released from prison last year over a prisoner swap that the Afghan government was pressured to do by the Trump administration.
The attack is led by a commander who goes by the name Maulavi Talib, who was captured last year to be released along with 5,000 other Taliban prisoners as part of Donald Trump’s attempt to initiate peace negotiations.
Talib, real name Mullah Abdul Ahad, is a prominent Afghan Taliban leader who was arrested in Sangin after being spotted trying to slip through a checkpoint.
He was sent to Bagram Prison outside Kabulm, but released as part of the exchange. The last of the 5,000 inmates were released in August 2020.
The freedmen were asked for assurances that they would not return to battle, but it is believed that many others besides Abdul Ahad have already done so.
Abdul Ahad resumed his old post shortly after his release and is currently overseeing the fighting in Lashkar Gar, Attaullah Afghan, Helamand Provincial Council Chairman, confirmed.
Taliban fighters have taken over many neighborhoods in Lashkar Gah, Helmand Province, southern Afghanistan
Afghan special forces patrol a deserted street during clashes with Taliban fighters, in Lashkar Gah
The Taliban continued their advance into southern Afghanistan on Tuesday, capturing nine of the 10 districts of the provincial capital, Helmand, residents and officials said.
The Afghan government has reconsidered the release of the detainees but was pressured by the Trump administration to accept the deal after the Taliban refused to otherwise begin peace talks with Afghanistan.
The US agreed to an exchange where the Afghan government would release up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners and the insurgents up to 1,000 prisoners.
Nearly a year after the release of the detainees, talks have yet to begin and the Taliban have overtaken much of Afghanistan.
Lashkar Gar was nearly overtaken by the Taliban when Afghans suffered a violent attack as government forces desperately defended their remaining part of the city.
A top Afghan military commander ordered residents to flee the overtaken city as the military prepared a major offensive to oust Taliban fighters as fighting escalated over three days of fierce fighting.
The Taliban currently occupy the majority of the city’s neighborhoods.
The fall of Lashkar Gah would be a major turning point in the offensive the Taliban have waged in recent months as US and NATO forces complete their withdrawal from the war-torn country.
The fall of the city would be the first city to be taken by the insurgents, as Taliban forces have gained more and more control since foreign allies began the final phase of troop withdrawals in May.
Hundreds of families tried to leave the city yesterday after Afghan General Sami Sadat told residents via media on Tuesday to leave as soon as possible.
The local army commander urged them to evacuate before a major counter-attack to relieve and clear the city.
“I know it’s very hard for you to leave your home – it’s hard for us too – but if you’re displaced for a few days, please forgive us. We fight the Taliban wherever they are. We will fight against them… we will not leave any Taliban alive,” he told the city of 200,000.
Mohammad Ekhlas, a resident of Safiyan in Lashkar Gar, reported: The Telegraph“Life has become more difficult. We’ve been waiting for a week for the government to restore security, but the city is closed.’
“The fighting continued and there was no hope of liberation,” he said.
Many families had fled because of unemployment and hunger, with no jobs or business in the city, he said.