Dostum Vows to Return to North, Suppress Taliban

Former vice president Marshal Abdul Rashid Dostum, who is in Turkey for treatment, said Sunday he will soon return to his home province of Jawzjan in northern Afghanistan to suppress the Taliban in the north, after consultation with President Ghani and the Defense Ministry.

“I predicted this years ago,” Dostum said, referring to Taliban offensives in northern provinces. “All districts, tanks were handed over to the Taliban without resistance. I don’t know what the plan is?”

He said that the reason behind the fall of the districts should be investigated.

“We have seen such issues many times. I was telling them that such a situation will come and I asked Mr. President to assign someone capable because even your security guard will not remain beside you the next day,” Dostum said. “Now that such a situation has come, we will come to the north, it is our home, I have been raised there… I will be proud if I am killed and martyred there.”

Dostum called on the security forces and public uprising members to not surrender to the Taliban and to continue fighting against the group.

“I will never leave the territory,” he pledged, saying that he will definitely return.

This comes as the Taliban has intensified their offensives against Afghan forces on multiple fronts. So far over the last two months, over 100 districts have fallen to the group.

Five districts have fallen to the Taliban in the last 24 hours, including Shor Tapa in Balkh, Chak and Sayed Abad in Maidan Wardak, Rustaq in Takhar and Arghistan in Kandahar, adding another layer of complexity to the alarming situation that has emerged following the fall of territory to the militant group.

Takhar lawmakers in Parliament said Rustaq is the 13th district in the northeastern province that has fallen to the Taliban in recent weeks.

The fall of strategic districts in the north, south and west has created concerns over the possible infiltration of Taliban into the income-generating territory in the country, including the Shirkhan town in Kunduz on the border with Tajikistan.

Kunduz’s provincial council and a private sector entity said that they are concerned about the loss of Shirkhan’s income to the Taliban and warned of threats posed to other border towns – the Aqina border town in Faryab and Ai Khanum in Takhar.

Meanwhile, two army commanders on Sunday said the Taliban made multiple combined attacks overnight attempting to break key defense areas in the northern city of Pul-e-Khumri, but their attempts failed as they faced resistance by security forces.

One of these attacks in the Block Ha area in Pul-e-Khumri continued for three hours, commando forces said.