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Dying of famed Afghan commander in Taliban massacre highlights the nation’s struggles and fears

Dying of famed Afghan commander in Taliban massacre highlights the nation’s struggles and fears

KABUL — He turned into as soon as a standard’s son, a U.S.-trained officer with a dazzling academic file and a daring defense force reputation.

Col. Sohrab Azimi, a area commander in Afghan particular forces that often rescue troops and retake outposts from Taliban assaults, symbolized the nation’s handiest hope to fend off an insurgent takeover as U.S. troops began to withdraw from the struggle.

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Azimi, 31, and his squad of 22 males were massacred Wednesday by Taliban forces while defending a incorrect in northern Faryab province and waiting for reinforcements.

The loss unleashed a flood of emotions all the plan thru social media — pain, enrage and misfortune that even the nation’s most professional defenders will seemingly be undercut by heart-broken defense force leadership and the departure of Afghanistan’s most principal foreign defense force ally.

At a ceremony outside a defense force scientific institution in Kabul on Saturday morning, a Muslim cleric blessed the velvet-draped coffins of Azimi and two other commandos, launched by the Taliban after negotiations with the International Committee of the Pink Defective. They were lifted onto artillery trucks, adopted by goose-stepping troopers and a marching band, then loaded into ambulances.

“Here is the imprint we pay for defending our nation’s independence, freedom and dignity,” Rangin Dadfar Spanta, a feeble foreign minister, informed the soundless, principally uniformed crowd that included Azimi’s father, a retired army standard. The two males, classmates from another era, embraced and wept.

“No person will seemingly be allowed to capture our land or pick our freedom away,” Spanta vowed.

However in Faryab, one of a monumental quantity of provinces the place the Taliban has launched repeated assaults in most recent months, the mass killing added to a deepening sense of despair and defeat. After weeks of assaults that wore down native safety forces and led many to give up, the highly trained commandos despatched to assign the day had been surrounded, remoted and mowed down en masse.

“Govt forces don’t contain the will to struggle. Their morale is veteran and there is miniature coordination amongst the forces,” Sayed Babur Jamal, a provincial legislator, stated Saturday.

He stated the insurgents control eight districts in Faryab and continue to overrun defense force and police bases, seizing defense force autos and weapons from surrendering native forces. 

“There is a solid probability that Faryab will tumble,” he stated.

Officials utter the slide and aggression of Taliban assaults contain increased since the Biden administration announced in April that every body remaining troops will seemingly be withdrawn by Sept. 11. In some areas, native forces contain surrendered after negotiations between community elders and the Taliban. In others, departing U.S. troops contain destroyed bases or stripped them of everything usable to maintain them from falling into Taliban hands.

Despite the drumbeat of assaults, defense force officials play down the significance of native Taliban advances and repeat that many are rapidly reversed. After the commando slayings in Faryab’s Dawlat Abad district, the district turned into as soon as recaptured by Afghan forces by Thursday, with insurgents suffering heavy casualties, authorities stated.

“The inconvenience that has came about would no longer imply the victory and vitality of the Taliban,” Fawad Ahmad, a spokesman for the Ministry of Protection, stated Friday in response to written questions. He stated the Afghan safety forces contain enough “fight and professional capabilities” to defend Afghanistan.

“A Taliban victory thru defense force draw is awfully no longer going,” he stated.

Many Afghans utter the curtailing of U.S. airstrikes has been an most principal loss for floor forces, and some counsel that such strikes will contain saved Azimi and his males. Another widespread complaint is ongoing discord and heart-broken coordination by senior Afghan defense force officials. Some area commanders, determined for offers and meals, contain resorted to appealing for assistance on social media.

The volatility in Afghanistan will contain an place on how the U.S. defense force departs in coming days.

On Saturday, two U.S. defense officials stated that discussions are underway that can lengthen the U.S. defense force’s anticipated withdrawal from its largest airfield in Afghanistan, Bagram air incorrect, by early July.

One official, speaking on the situation of anonymity as a result of of the sensitivity of the inconvenience, stated that some service participants at Bagram already contain been informed to place a query to their departure to be postponed. The 2d official acknowledged that discussions to lengthen are underway, with out describing the thought as definitive.

The air incorrect has been historical for years to open each manned strike plane and drones. Without it, the United States is anticipated to rely on long-vary flights from bases in the Center East to give air strengthen in Afghanistan.

Officials at the high U.S. defense force headquarters in Kabul referred questions about the lengthen to counterparts in the United States, who did no longer acknowledge to requests for comment.

Davood Moradian, director of the Afghan Institute for Strategic Reports and a much away relative of Azimi, stated the Faryab fiasco exposed a “monumental failure of the draw” as the nation confronts several considerations straight away.

“Other individuals love the army and relish the commandos, but the authorities and the defense force are poorly led, U.S. troops are leaving, and the Taliban are feeling bolder. It’s miles a tragic triangle,” he stated.

For the Taliban, Azimi’s killing turned into as soon as a seemingly propaganda coup.

The community launched a video showing him with bullet holes in his chest, lying amid the corpses of males he had led in fight. However Azimi’s father, Zahir, a feeble Protection Ministry spokesman, wrote on Fb that he felt pride when he noticed the bullets had struck his son from the front.

“You fought face to face with your enemy unless the final 2d,” he wrote.

In an interview at his residence Friday, the elder Azimi additionally distinguished that his son — who studied in the United States and Turkey, held several academic levels and married an American citizen — will contain with out considerations chosen a prestigious desk job or foreign posting.

“He had many alternatives, but he wanted to switch into operations. Frequent Afghan households connected to him, these who lost husbands and sons,” he stated.

The elder Azimi, 67, who fought Taliban extremists earlier than they took vitality in 1996, stated he turned into as soon as apprehensive by the lack of planning that had preceded the bad mission in Faryab, leaving the commandos without a backup.

He stated that with up to 50 of 370 Afghan districts below Taliban control or attack, it’d be greater to temporarily withdraw from some susceptible areas and prevent bloodshed.

The ex-standard stated he respected Biden’s plan to withdraw U.S. forces but that the president turned into as soon as tainted to bustle into the pullout just months after U.S. officials signed a address Taliban leaders.

“[The Taliban] came to imagine they were winning, and they began to plan thousands of volunteer warring parties and strengthen from out of the nation,” he stated. “They contain rather a lot extra potential now.”

Amongst the a entire bunch of website visitors who known as on the Azimi household in most recent days, feeble classmates of the slain commando leader were far extra indispensable. Some bitterly accused the United States of abandoning them for selfish interests at the worst that that you might be also think of time.

“They left the struggle and left the area to the Taliban,” stated one feeble classmate. He identified himself simplest as Sulieman to explicit an most principal opinion. “They preached values esteem democracy, but now they are going, and we’re losing our handiest males, the proper warriors and patriots esteem Sohrab who fought for these values.”

The slain commando leader turned into as soon as promoted posthumously to brigadier standard. His body turned into as soon as flown Saturday to Herat, his ancestral incorrect in far western ­Afghanistan, and buried earlier than sunset.

Sharif Hassan in Kabul and

Dan Lamothe in Columbus, Ga., contributed to this file.

Dying of famed Afghan commander in Taliban massacre highlights the nation’s struggles and fears