Dostum says Taliban ‘trapped’ in north and have nowhere to go

Marshal Abdul Rashid Dostum said Wednesday that the Taliban are now trapped in the north and will not be able to flee that part of the country and that security forces will “crackdown” on the militants.

Speaking to journalists in Balkh province, Dostum said: “The Taliban have been trapped in the north several times and this time it is not easy to get out from the north.”

Dostum, who is reportedly in Balkh to lead the war against the Taliban in the northern provinces of Afghanistan, noted that Taliban militants could face the fate of Mullah Fazel, who spent years in Guantanamo prison.

Mullah Fazel was the Taliban’s designated chief of army staff during their regime but surrendered to Dostum after the collapse of the Taliban regime in 2001.

He was later handed over to the US forces and then transferred to Guantanamo. Today he is one of the negotiating team members for the Taliban in Doha.

Fazel was released, along with four other senior members of the Taliban – including Mullah Norullah Noori, Abdul Haq Wasiq, Khairullah Khairkhwa, and Mohammed Nabi Omari – in exchange for the release of an American soldier Bowe Bergdahl, who had been held captive by the Haqqani Network from 2009 to 2014.

Meanwhile, President Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday led a government delegation to Mazar-e-Sharif on Wednesday morning to assess the security situation in the northern provinces.

Ghani’s visit to the capital of Balkh province comes amid escalating violence across the country, particularly in the north.

According to the Presidential Palace, Ghani’s senior security and political affairs adviser Mohammad Mohaqiq and former mujahideen commander Juma Khan Hamdard accompanied the president.

In Mazar, Ghani, Mohaqiq, and Hamdard met with political and jihadi leaders, including Marshal Abdul Rashid Dostum and Atta Mohammad Noor.

During the meeting, comprehensive discussions were held on the general situation in the northern provinces, and the coordination, equipping, and mobilization of civilian uprising forces under the umbrella of the security forces.

Former Balkh Governor Atta Mohammad Noor stated: “operation plans, partisan and Guerrilla war [against Taliban], strengthening ranks [frontlines], and assessing weak points were discussed.”