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‘Lion of Herat’ tamed? Taliban captures veteran warlord Ismail Khan, claims he joined group’s ranks

‘Lion of Herat’ tamed? Taliban captures veteran warlord Ismail Khan, claims he joined group’s ranks
Prominent Afghan warlord and politician Ismail Khan has been captured by the Taliban as his home city of Herat fell to the militants. Khan and his supporters have now joined the Taliban, according to the group.

The veteran militant commander was allegedly captured by the Taliban when Herat, the country’s third-largest city, fell into the group’s hands. Imagery released by the Taliban on Friday, purportedly showed Khan under house arrest at his mansion.

The veteran warlord, nicknamed ‘The Lion of Herat’, came out of retirement last month when the Taliban’s forces approached his home city. Khan, who fought Soviet troops back in the 1980s, as well as the Taliban the following decade, held senior government positions in post-US invasion Afghanistan.

Khan’s comeback, however, apparently hasn’t helped bolster defenses in Herat, as the major western Afghan city fell into Taliban hands on Thursday. Shortly after announcing Khan’s capture, the Taliban claimed the warlord willingly joined the group together with all the forces loyal to him.

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Over the past few days, the Taliban has ramped up its offensive against Afghan government troops, shifting its focus from rural to densely-populated urban areas. So far, the group has seized 14 out of 34 provincial capitals across the country, including such major cities as Kunduz, Herat and the country’s second largest city, Kandahar, which fell on Thursday.

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