Hundreds of Public Forces Deployed to Guard Mazar-e-Sharif

Lawmakers from Balkh province in Afghanistan’s parliament and prominent political figures in Balkh on Tuesday said that hundreds of public uprising forces have been deployed in the main areas of Mazar-e-Sharif city to protect the city from a possible attack by the Taliban.

They said that the Taliban has been pushed back from the main gates of Mazar-e-Sharif, and they pledged that security will be maintained at any cost.

This comes as the Taliban has already taken control of seven districts centers in Balkh. In recent days, insurgents were seen intensifying their attacks in the outskirts of the city of Mazar-e-Sharif.

“If there are assurances about the delivery of weapons and other supplies to our people, there are more than 10,000 young people who are ready to defend Balkh and the north,” said Abbas Ibrahimzada, the head of Hizb-e-Wahdat-e-Naweein Afghanistan party.

On Monday the centers of Balkh, Chimtal, Kashinda, Sholgara and Dawlatabad districts fell to the Taliban. Later on the Taliban intensified attacks near Mazar-e-Sharif city.

“In Dasht-e-Shor, people loyal to Hizb-e-Wahdat-e-Naween have established three to four checkpoints—also toward Balkh district, Jamiat-e-Islami and Harakat-e-Islami have pledged to mobilize the people toward the Nasaji area,” said Raees Abdul Khaliq, a member of parliament.

The political or group affiliations of those who have shown a willingness to operate under the public uprising forces have not yet been confirmed, but Mohammad Farhad Azimi, the governor of Balkh province, said that hundreds of them are supporters of political parties.

“The enemies of the country tried to infiltrate here to Mazar-e-Sharif, we will fight until the last drop of our blood and will defend our country,” said Samiullah, a member of the public uprising force.

The 209 Shaheen Army corps has said that security forces have retaken the center of Balkh from the Taliban. The Taliban has denied this claim.

Officials in Balkh said that Afghan forces will soon launch a clearance operation to retake the territories lost to the Taliban.