Taliban chief leading attack on an Afghan city was freed by US alongside 5,000 insurgents in prisoner swap agreed under the Trump Administration
- Taliban commander, Mullah Abdul Ahad, is leading deadly attacks on Lashkar Gar was released with 5,000 other prisoners under Trump deal
- The US agreed to a swap in which the Afghan government would release up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners and the insurgents release up to 1,000 prisoners
- Prisoners were asked for assurances they would not return to the fight but it is believed that others besides Abdul Ahad have returned
- Afghanistan’s Helmand Province capital, 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 leading the attack on Afghanistan‘s Helmand Province capital, Lashkar Gar, was released from jail last year under a prisoner swap that the Afghan government was pressured into by the Trump Administration.
The assault is being led by a commander using the name Maulavi Talib, who was captured last year only to be released with 5,000 other Taliban prisoners under Donald Trump‘s attempt to kick-start peace negotiations.
Talib, real name Mullah Abdul Ahad, is a top senior Afghan Taliban leader who was arrested in Sangin after being spotted as he tried to slip through a checkpoint.
He was sent to Bagram Prison outside Kabulm, but then freed as part of the swap. The last of the 5,000 prisoners were released in August of 2020.
Those freed were asked for assurances they would not return to the fight, but it is believed that many others beside Abdul Ahad already have.
Abdul Ahad resumed his old post soon after his release and is currently overseeing the fight in Lashkar Gar, Attaullah Afghan, chairman of Helamand’s provincial council, confirmed.
Taliban fighters have taken over many of the neighborhoods in Lashkar Gah, Helmand province, southern Afghanistan
Afghan Special forces patrol a deserted street during fighting with Taliban fighters, in Lashkar Gah
The Taliban pressed ahead with their advances in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday, capturing nine out of 10 districts of the Helmand provincial capital, residents and officials said
The Afghan government revisited the prisoner release, but was pressured to accept the deal by the Trump Administration after the Taliban refused to begin peace talks with Afghanistan otherwise.
The US agreed to a swap in which the Afghan government would release up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners and the insurgents release up to 1,000 prisoners.
Nearly a year after the prisoner release, talks have yet to begin and the Taliban have overtaken much of Afghanistan.
Lashkar Gar was nearly overtaken by the Taliban as Afghans suffered a violent attack as government forces desperately defended their remaining corner of the city.
A top Afghan military commander ordered residents to flee the overtaken city as the army prepared a major offensive to push out Taliban fighters as fighting has escalated during three days of heavy fighting.
The Taliban is currently occupying 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 over the past months as U.S. and NATO forces complete their pullout from the war-torn country.
The fall of the city would mark the first city taken by the insurgents as Taliban forces have increasingly gained control since foreign allies began the final stages of withdrawing troops in May.
Hundreds of families were trying to leave the city yesterday after Afghan General Sami Sadat told residents on Tuesday to get out as soon as they could via the media.
The local army commander urged them to evacuated before a major counter attack to relieve and clear the city.
‘I know it is very difficult for you to leave your houses – it is hard for us, too – but if you are displaced for a few days, please forgive us. We are fighting the Taliban wherever they are. We will fight them … we will not leave a single Taliban alive,’ he said addressing the city of 200,000.
Mohammad Ekhlas, a resident of Safiyan in Lashkar Gar, told The Telegraph, ‘Life has become more difficult. We have been waiting for a week for the government to recover 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 work or business in the city, he said.