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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Afghan Civil war (1992–96)

The 1992 to 1996 phase of the Civil war in Afghanistan began with the resignation of President Najibullah from the Government of Afghanistan and the entrance of the Mujahideen groups into Kabul. The fighting involved multiple factions and up until the Taliban entered the city in 1996, was largely fought on three fronts. The West of the city was controlled largely by Hezbe Wahdat and the Jamiat-allied Ittehad-I Islami The North of the city was under control of Ahmed Shah Massoud’s forces and Jamiat-e Islami while the south was largely under control of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hezbi Islami.

Political background
Main article: Civil war in Afghanistan (1989–1992)#Fall of Kabul

After the fall of the Soviet Union the civil war entered a new phase. In mid-January 1992, Ahmad Shah Massoud was aware of conflict within the government's northern command. General Abdul Momim, in charge of the Hairatan border crossing at the northern end of Kabul's supply highway, and other non-Pashtun generals based in Mazari Sharif feared removal by Najibullah and replacement by Pashtun officers. The generals rebelled and the situation was taken over by Dostum, also based in Mazar-i-Sharif. He and Massoud reached a political agreement, together with another major militia leader, Sayyed Mansour, of the Ismaili community based in Baghlan Province. These northern allies consolidated their position in Mazar-i-Sharif on March 21. Their coalition covered nine provinces in the north and northeast. As turmoil developed within the government in Kabul, there was no government force standing between the northern allies and the major air force base at Bagram, some seventy kilometers north of Kabul. By mid-April the air force command at Bagram had capitulated to Massoud. With no army to defend it, Kabul had become completely defenseless.

On 14 April 1992 it was confirmed that Massoud and his forces had taken Charikar and Jabalussaraj in Parwan province with only minimal fighting. At this point it was reported that Massoud had approximately 20 000 troops stationed around Kabul. It was further reported that the Government's Second Division had joined Massoud. General Mohammad Nabi Azimi then proceeded to reinforce Bagram Air Base and sent further reinforcements to the outer perimeter of Kabul. During the night of April 14, the air force command at Bagram had capitulated to Massoud. With no army to defend it, Kabul had become completely defenseless. Additionally, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar launched a salvo of about 6 rockets at Kabul the same night.

Najibullah had lost internal control immediately after he announced his willingness on March 18 to resign in order to make way for a neutral interim government. As the government broke into several factions the issue had become how to carry out a transfer of power. On 10 April 1992, U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali presented a plan to the Mujahedin parties which they approved of. On April 15, as Najibullah intended to resign, the chief UN mediator, Benon Sevan flew into Kabul with members of the Shura. The intention was to fly the Shura members in, and fly Najibullah out. During the night of April 16, Najibullah and his chief of staff General Toukhi left their residence with UN escort and diplomats Phillip Corwin and Dan Quirke. However despite arrangements made previously, Najibullah was prevented from leaving the city and accessing the airport at the final checkpoint, as the forces of General Dostum had seized the Kabul Airport. He instead took flight into the UN compound until he was killed by the Taliban in 1996.

At the same time, major cities and military bases began to surrender all over the country: Kunduz fell on April 17, along with Shindand Airbase and the whole of Helmand Province. On April 18, Herat fell. On April 20, Jalalabad finally surrendered, followed by Kandahar on the 21st, and Gardez on the 22nd.

On April 26, 1992, leaders in Pakistan signed the Peshawar Accords. These were designed to create a interim government and they established a timetable for elections. The new problem was to establish a new government. The Islamic Jihad Council agreed to form an interim government. It was decided that a 51 man body, headed by Sibghatullah Mojaddedi, would go inside Kabul so that they could take over power from the present rulers of Kabul completely, and without any terms and conditions during the two months period. Massoud was to become ministry of defense. The head of this body would also be the President of the State during this two month period. After this period, this body would remain as an interim Islamic Council government, along with the Transitional State, and its Chairmanship would be held by Mojaddedi.

Following the 51 man Loya Jirga, Burhanuddin Rabbani was appointed president. Massoud retained his position as minister of defense, General Mohammad Qasim Fahim became the ministry of the interior, while Mohammed Arif was appointed ministry of intelligence, a position he retained after the fall of the Taliban in 2001. Abdul Rasul Sayyaf was appointed foreign minister. However this new agreement largely excluded the Shia political parties  and as a result Hezb-I Wahdat would later withdraw from the government and join the forces of Hezb-I Islami.

Although some elements of the PDPA had infiltrated the government in the name of Mojadeddi, most of the Parchamis had managed to flee the country. Khalq members who were mostly Pashtuns, either joined Gulbuddin Hekmatyar or fled to Pakistan.

Fall of Kabul

Massoud was now poised to enter Kabul, but the mujahideen leadership in Peshawar had no plan to take power. A new regime was hastily cobbled together, formed with a Supreme Leadership Council, and a transitory presidency that was given to Sibghatullah Mojaddedi for two months, after which Burhanuddin Rabbani was to succeed him. Hekmatyar was given the post of Prime Minister, but he did not accept this state of affairs, based on Massoud's military preeminence. His Hezbi Islami forces began to infiltrate Kabul, and struck an alliance with Raz Mohamed Paktin, commander of the Ministry of Interior troops. This forced Massoud to advance on the capital, lest it fall completely in the hands of Hezbi Islami.
A map of the city of Kabul, where the deadliest fighting of the war would take place between 1992-1996

The different Mujahideen groups entered Kabul from different directions. Hezbi Islami made the first move and entered the city from the south. Hekmatyar had asked other mujahideen groups such as Harakat-Inqilab-i-Islami and Khalis faction to join him while entering Kabul, but they declined his offer. Hekmatyar's men had numeric superiority but lacked technical and strategic advantage. They were armed with light weapons such as AK-47s and RPG-7s. The Hezb had acquired some surrendered weapons from the Afghan Army on the way to Kabul but they were not sufficient. As they entered the city's southern sector, they faced no resistance. Hekmatyar aired a statement in the radio stating that the "lions had entered Kabul to liberate its people". The advance was slow and steady until the Jamiat Islami entered the city from the north.

Jamiat Islami had seized massive amount of weapons while overrunning the garrisons in Bagram, Charikar, Takhar, Kunduz, Fayzabad and other northern cities. Adding to that, all the forces of Junbish Milli had aligned themselves to the Jamiat, and the Parcham government of Afghanistan had decided to surrender all its weapons to Jamiat, instead of Hezb. All the Parchamis had fled abroad through the Jamiat controlled areas. Jamiat had seized massive stockpiles of heavy weapons such as T-62 and T-55 tanks, Scud missiles and MiG-21s.

The Hezb-e Islami forces were very far from key points of the city such as the Presidential Palace, Prime Minister's office, Kabul International Airport, the Defense Ministry and many other important government offices, and much of the city lies in the North Bank of the Kabul River. The Jamiat forces quickly took control of these strategically important offices. Although Hezb forces got to the gates of Ministry of Justice and had got control of Ministry of Interior, they were quickly repulsed after bombing from the Afghan Air Force, which was supported from artillery shells fired from TV Tower onto Jade Maiwand. Hundreds of Hezb Fighters were killed or taken prisoners including some foreign fighters.

In the western sector of the city, the Hezb-e Islami forces crossed the Kabul River and arrived at the northern bank after taking control of the Karta-e Seh area. While charging towards the Kote Sangi and Kabul University, Sayyaf's forces attacked Hezb forces from the Ghazi School area in a surprise move, and the Hezb forces were separated into two groups after being cut off by Jamiat forces.

Throughout the night, the exhausted and demoralized forces of Hezbi Islami, fought on, some to the bitter end. After suffering heavy casualties, Hezb forces in the southern bank fled out of Kabul towards Logar and deserted their positions. There were two choices for the Hezb Forces who were surrounded in the Northern bank of the Kabul river, either to surrender or to fight to the death, and most of them chose the latter. Heavy shells were fired in the areas which they were holding. Many civilians fled, but those who were caught in the cross fire were not so fortunate.

Also, when the mujahideen overran Pul-e-Charkhi prison, they set free all the inmates, including many criminals, who were able to take arms and commit gruesome exactions against the population. With the government institutions either collapsing or participating in the factional fighting, maintaining order in Kabul became almost impossible.


The immediate objective of the government was to defeat the forces acting against the government, particularly Hezb-I Islami but later to include Wahdat, Junbushi and Harakat Islami. The forces of Jamiat and Shura-I Nazar entered the city, with agreement from Nabi Azimi and the Commander of the Kabul Garrision, General Abdul Wahid Baba Jan that they would enter the city through Bagram, Panjshir, Salang and Kabul Airport. Many government forces, including generals, joined Jamiat, including the forces of General Baba Jan, who was at the time in charge of the garrison of Kabul. On April 27, all major parties had entered the city. >.

Meanwhile in Western Kabul, an area that would later see some of the fiercest fighting and greatest massacres of the war, Sayyaf’s mostly Pashtoon forces began to enter the city from Paghman and Maidan SharWhat started as sporadic street fighting immediately became an organized urban war. The command center of the Kabul garrison housed several Generals, including Mohammad Nabi Azimi, General Baba Jan, Dr. Abdul Rahman, General Panah Khan Panjshiri and other remnants of the government forces who were still in charge.

Kabul came completely under Jamiat control on April 30, 1992, but the situation was far from stabilized. The Hezbi Islami had been driven out, but they were still within artillery range, and soon started firing barrages of rockets into the city. Fighting between Hezbe Islami and Junbish occurred in the Shashdarak area of Kabul. On May 5–6, 1992, Hizb-i Islami subjected Kabul to a heavy artillery bombardment, killing and injuring an unknown number of civilians. On May 23, 1992, despite a cease-fire, the forces of Junbish-i Milli bombarded Hizb-i Islami positions in Bini Hissar, Kalacha and Kart-iNau.

Peace talks on May 25, 1992 originally agreed to give Hekmatyar the presidency however this lasted less than a week after it was claimed that Hekmatyar had attempted to shoot down the plain of President Mujaddidi. >. Furthermore as part of the peace talks Hekmatyar was demanding the departure of Dostum’s forces which would have altered dramatically titled the scales.

On the May 30, 1992, during fighting between the forces of Junbish-i Milli and Hizb-i Islami in the southeast of Kabul, both sides used artillery and rockets killing and injuring an unknown number of civilians. Shura-I Nazar forces were said to have been around the Customs post on Jalalabad road under the command of Gul Haidar and Baba Jalandar, who also were active in the areas such as the military university.
[edit] June-July

In June 1992, as scheduled, Burhanuddin Rabbani became president of Afghanistan. In Burhanuddin Rabbani, Tajiks ruled Afghanistan for only the second time in 300 years, the first being a brief seizure of power in the 1920s.

From the onset of the war, Jamiat and Shura-I Nazzar controlled the strategic high areas, and were thus able to develop a vantage point within the city from which opposition forces could be targeted. After Rabbani's appointment, the whole control of the government went into Jamiat-e Islami hands. Hekmatyar continued to bombard Kabul with rockets. Soon after Kabul was seized, fighting between Hekmatyar's Hezb-i-Islami and Massoud’s Jamiat and their Junbish allies started almost immediately. Artillery exchanges quickly broke out escalating in late May-Early June. Shura-I Nazar was able to immediately benefit from heavy weapons left by fleeing or defecting government forces and launched rockets on positions near the Jalalabad Custom’s Post, and in the districts around Hood Khil, Qala-e Zaman Khan and near Pul-I Charkhi prison. These were met by return fire by Hekmatyar’s men who retaliated by launching rockets at the airport, Microrarion, the palace, defense ministry and the Kabul garrison. Although Hekmatyar insisted that only Islamic Jihad Council areas were targeted, the rockets mostly fell over the houses of the innocent civilians of Kabul, a fact which has been well-documented. On June 10 it was reported that Dostum’s forces had begun nightly bombardments of Hezb-e Islami positions.

Particularly noticeable in this period was the escalation of the fight in West Kabul between the Shi’a Wahdat forces and those of the Wahhabist Ittehad militia supported by Saudi Arabia. Wahdat was somewhat nervous about the presence of Ittihad posts which were deployed in Hazara areas such as Rahman Baba High school. According to the writings of Nabi Azimi, who at the time was a high ranking governor, the fighting began on 31 May 1992 when 4 members of Hezb-e Wahdat’s leadership were assassinated near the Kabul Silo. Those killed were Karimi, Sayyid Isma’il Hosseini, Chaman Ali Abuzar and Vaseegh, the first 3 being members of the party’s central committee. Following this the car of Haji Shir Alam, a top Ittihad commander was stopped near Pol-e Sorkh, and although Alem escaped, one fo the passengers was killed. On the June 3, 1992, heavy fighting between forces of Ittihad-i Islami and Hizb-I Wahdat in west Kabul. Both sides used rockets, killing and injuring civilians. On June 4, interviews with Hazara households state that Ittihad forces looted their houses in Kohte-e Sangi, killing 6 civilians. The gun battles at this time had a death toll of over 100 according to some sources. On June 5, 1992, further conflict between forces of Ittihad and Hizb-i Wahdat in west Kabul was reported. Here, both sides used heavy artillery, destroying houses and other civilian structures. Three schools were reported destroyed by bombardment. The bombardment killed and injured an unknown number of civilians. Gunmen were reported killing people in shops near the Kabul Zoo. Jamiat and Shur a-I Nazara joined the conflict later in the month, and in June/July bombarded Hizb-i Wahdat positions in Kart-iSakhi, Khushhal Khan Mina, Darulaman, Kart-e She, and Kart-iChar, causing heavy casualties and destruction of houses. On 24 June 1992 the Jamhuriat hospital located near the Interior Ministry was bombed and closed.

The beginning of the Bombardments

Throughout the war, the most devastating aspect of it remained the indiscriminate shelling of the city by the various sides in the conflict. Although most sides engaged in bombardments, some were more indiscriminate in their targeting. As Jamiat-e controlled the strategic high areas, they were better able to target specific military objectives rather than resorting to indiscriminate shelling as other factions such as Hezb-e Islami had done. During this period, according to a former intelligence office, Jamiat-e had 3 types of rockets. The long range rockets were held at Tapa Sorkh and deployed near the Bagram airport. These targeted Hizb-I Islami and Hizb-I Wahdat controlled areas, military targets and areas where divisions had settled. According to the officer, the 3rd regiment deployed in the Darulaman area, where Wahdat Corps had based their artillery commander, as well as the area near the Russian Embassy where the commander of Wahdat’s Division 096, were particularly targeted by the long ranged rockets. Charasyab, which housed Hizb-I Islami’s artillery, Shiwaki, where the intelligence department was deployed and the Rishkor division were also targeted, in addition to the Dasht-I Saqawa airport in Logar Province.

Middle range rockets were also held by Shura-I Nazar and had a range of 20 kilometers. According to the intelligence officer mentioned above, Qargha Division lead by Ahmadi, Jihadi Army lead by Panah Khan, Tapa Sorkh Division lead by Gada Mohammed Khan and General Bismillah Khan. These rockets were apparently launched at military zones and Hib-I Islami bases such as Bagrami, Shah Shahid, Karte Nau, Chilsiton as well as Wahdat controlled areas such as Afshar, the area around the Social Science Institute and the Kabul Silo.

Furthermore Jamiate controlled large amounts of mobile rockets, artillery and tanks which were in the hands of commanders of attacking armies such as Gul Haider, Abdul Sabor, Commander Fazel Samangani, Abdul Hai Khan, and Moawin Aziz.

By far the worst perpetrator of these attacks against non-military targets were the forces of Hizb-e Islami. These included attacks against hospitals and a boming attack on the headquarters of the International Red Cross. There was general indiscriminate bombing starting in August.

The once powerful alliance between the Uzbek General Abdul Rashid Dostum and Massoud was beginning to crack as the Uzbeks did not gain enough power under the new leadership. Different militia factions were fighting over control of different areas all over the country. Kandahar was filled with three different local Pashtun commanders Amir Lalai, Gul Agha Sherzai and Mullah Naqib Ullah who engaged in an extremely violent struggle for power. The bullet riddled city came to be a centre of lawlessness, crime and atrocities fuelled by complex Pashtun tribal rivalries’.


In the month of August alone, a bombardment of artillery shells, rockets and fragmentation bombs killed over 2,000 people in Kabul, most of them civilians. On August 1 the airport was attacked by rockets. 150 rockets alone were launched the following day, and according to one author these missile attacks killed as many as 50 people and injured 150. In the early morning on August 10 Hezb-e Islami forces attacked from three directions – Chelastoon, Darulaman and Maranjan mountain. A shell also struck a Red Cross hospital. On April 10–11 nearly a thousand rockets hit parts of Kabul including about 250 hits on the airport. Some estimate that as many as 1000 were killed, with the attacks attributed to Hekmatyar’s forces. By August 20 it was reported that 500, 000 people had fled Kabul. On August 13, 1992, a rocket attack was launched on Deh Afghanan in which cluster bombs were used. 80 were killed and more than 150 injured according to press reports. In response to this, Shura-I Nazar forces bombard Kart-I Naw, Shah Shaheed and Chiilsatoon with aerial and ground bombardment. In this counter attack more than 100 were killed and 120 wounded, most of whom were civilians.

Hezb-e Islami was not however the only perpetrator of indiscriminate shelling of civilians. Particularly in West Kabul, Wahdat, Ittihad and Jamiat all have been accused of deliberately targeting civilian areas. Particularly after Jamiat joined the fighting on the side of Ittihad, regular attacks launched from the area near TV Mountain indiscriminately targeted the Hazara areas of West Kabul, such as Dasht-e Barchi, Karte She, and Deh Mazang.. All sides used non-precision rockets such as Sakre rockets and the UB-16 and UB-32 S-5 airborne rocket launchers.

On September 5, 1992 Uzbek militia quits Kabul. In November, in a very effective move, Hekmatyar's forces, together with guerrillas from some of the Arab groups, barricaded a power station in Sarobi, 30 miles east of Kabul, cutting electricity to the capital and shutting down the water supply, which is dependent on power. His forces and other Mujahideen were also reported to have prevented food convoys from reaching the city.

On November 23, Minister of Food Sulaiman Yaarin reported that the city's food and fuel depots were empty. The government was now under heavy pressure. At the end of 1992 Hizb-I Wahdat officially withdrew from the government and opened secret negotiations with Hizb-I Islami. In December 1992, Rabbani postponed convening a shura to elect the next president. This sparked some fighting between Massoud’s forces against those of Dostum and Wahdat. On December 29, 1992, Rabbani was elected as president and he agreed to establish a parliament with representatives from all of Afghanistan. Also notable during this month was the solidification of an alliance between Hezb-e Wahdat and Hezb-e Islami against the forces of Ittehad and Jamiat. While Hizb-I Islami joined in bombardments to support Wahdat, Wahdat conducted joint offensives, such as the one to secure Darulaman. On December 30, 1992 at least one child was apparently killed in Pul-I Artan by a BM21 Rocket launched from Hezb-I Islami forces at Rishkor.


On January 3, 1993, Burhanuddin Rabbani, the leader of the Jamiat-e Islami party, was sworn in as President. However Rabbani's authority remained limited to only part of Kabul; the rest of the city remained divided among rival Mujahideen factions. In response, on January 19, a short-lived cease-fire broke down when Hezb-i-Islami forces renewed rocket attacks on Kabul from their base in the south of the city supervised by Commander Toran Kahlil. Hundreds were killed and wounded while many houses were destroyed in this clash between Hizb-I Islami and Jamiat-I Islami.
The city of Kabul in 1993 after the fall of the communist regime

Heavy fighting was reported around a Wahdat post held by Commander Sayid Ali Jan near Rabia Balkhi girl's school. Most notable during this period was the rocket bombardments which would start against the residential area of Afshar. Some of these areas, such as Wahdat’s headquarters at the Social Science Institute, were considered military targets, a disproportionate number of the rockets, tank shells and mortars fell in civilian areas. According to Afghanistan Justice Project, as Jamiat had full sigh of this area, such attack must have been deliberate and an attempt to drive out the civilian population. Numerous rockets were reportedly launched from Haider-controlled frontlines of Tap-I Salaam towards the men of Division 095 under Ali Akbar Qasemi. One attack during this time from Wahdat killed at least 9 civilians. Further rockets bombardments took place on February 26, 1993 as Shura-I Nazara and Hizb-I Islami bombarded each other’s positions. Civilians were the main victims in the fighting which killed some 1,000 before yet another peace accord was signed on March 8. However the following day rocketing in Kabul left another 10 dead, apparently blamed on Hezb-I Wahdat. which was followed by both artillery and aerial bombardments of Western Kabul Residential Areas by Massoud’s forces on March 13, with hundreds wounded and at least another 30 dead. A cease-fire is signed after Hezbi Islami captures the defense force building of Massoud.

Rape and Massacre in Afshar
Main article: Afshar Operation

One of the most notorious incidents in the siege of Kabul is the Afshar operation. During Wahdat’s military operations, both the leader of Hezb-I Wahdat, Abdul Ali Mazari, and the base of Wahdat at the Social Science Institute were located near or adjacent to the Afshar neighbourhood. Furthermore this area was acting as a barrier between Ittihad-I Islami forces controlling the far West of Kabul towards Paghman and Jamiat-I Islami controlling the center. For these reasons a major operation was decided to be launched on February 10–11, 1993 by forces under the ministry of defense. Agreements were made with Abdul Rasul Sayyaf who was to act as the general commander of the Ittehad forces during the attack, while Massoud directly planned and prepared the operation from the Jamiat side. During the 2-3 day operation, approximately 700 civilians were killed. Wahdat was forced from the area but was able to reestablish a front slightly to the West. Civilians fled en masse, often going towards the center of the city and the Ismali districts.

Spring, Summer and Fall

Under the March accord, brokered by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, Rabbani and Hekmatyar agreed to share power until elections could be held in late 1994. Hekmatyar was named Prime Minister, but by November he had not entered Kabul because of continuing opposition from forces loyal to Massoud and sometimes those allied to the Uzbek commander General Rashid Dostum. The cease-fire broke down again on May 11, leaving more than 700 dead in bombing raids, street battles and rocket attacks in and around Kabul. On the same day the museum of Kabul was burned. On May 13 Masud's forces are aided by those of General Dostum.[30] Fighting was particularly occurring between Junbushi and Hezb-i Wahdat in Shah Shahid and Kart-i Nau where numerous rape and abuses were conducted by the forces of General Rashid Dostum. The parties agreed to a new peace accord in Jalalabad on May 20 under which Massoud agreed to relinquish the post of Defense Minister. A council of commanders was to assume that office, as well as the office of Interior Minister, but by mid-November the power struggle remained unresolved.

On July 15, 1993, forces of Masud and those of Hektamyar are reported to have clashed near the airport. Following this on 26 July Masud's forces take Bagram air base from those of Ittihad.

On September 14, Hizb-i Islami bombarded Eastern Kabul. On 23 December, General Dostum retakes Sher Khan Bandar without resistance.


The war changed dramatically in January 1994. Dostum, frustrated with the lack of progress, defected from his alliance with Massoud and joined with the forces of Gulbuddin Hikmatyar. However within a month Dostum was on the defensive, and Massoud had ousted him from most of his strongholds.

At the same time Hizb-i Islami, along with their new allies of Wahdat and Junbish-i Milli, launched the Shura Hamaghangi campaign against the forces of Massoud. During this, Hizb-i Islami was able make use of Junbush's air force in both bombing the positions of Jamiat-e and in resupplying their men. This led to greater artillery bombardment on behalf of Hizb-i Islami. Hizbi-Islami and Junbish were able to hold parts of central Kabul during this time. Areas around Microraion were particularly bloody.

In February 1994 fighting took place between Wahdat and Shura-i Nazara in Kart-i Seh and Alaodeen. Junbushi forces were particularly singled out for committing looting, rape and murder, for the sole reason that they could get away with it. Some commanders such as Shir Arab, commander of the 51st regiment,Kasim Jangal Bagh, Ismail Diwaneh [“Ismail the Mad”], and Abdul Cherikwere particularly singled out. According to Afghanistan Justice Project, during this period until June 1994, 25 000 people were killed.

At the same time, fighting erupted between Jamiat and Junbushi forces in the north, with Junbushi pushing Jamiat out of Mazar-e Sharif. On May 9 the Kabul air force bombarded Mazar and Pul-i Khumri, followed by Dostum bombarding the 10th division at Qargha near Kabul. On 17–18 May, Sayyaf captured Maidan Shahr from Hekmatyar forces. A few days later, Dostum claims that Stinger missiles were able to down two of Rabbani's aircraft. On June 3, Dostum bombarded Herat. On June 25, Harakat-e Islami recaptured Darulaman from Hizb-i Islami. The following day Dostum was ousted from Bala Hisar and the Maranjan hill.


Significant changes occurred in 1994 in how the war was conducted and who fought which side. The Taliban movement first emerged on the military scene in August 1994, with the stated goal of liberating Afghanistan from its present corrupt leadership of warlords and establish a pure Islamic society. By October 1994 the Taliban movement had attracted the support of Pakistan, which saw in the Taliban a way to secure trade routes to Central Asia and establish a government in Kabul friendly to its interests. Pakistani traders who had long sought a secure route to send their goods to Central Asia quickly became some of the Taliban's strongest financial backers. The Pakistanis also wished for a stable government to take hold in Afghanistan, regardless of ideology, in the hopes that the 3 million Afghans who for 15 years had taken refuge in Pakistan would return to their homeland since the refugee population became increasingly viewed as a burden.

In October 1994 a bomb struck a wedding ceremony in Qala Fathullah in Kabul, killing 70 civilians. No fighting had been witnessed in the area in several days according to reports.

On 12 October 1994 some 200 Taliban attacked Spin Baldak on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, and managed to capture a large amount of weapons including approximately 18 000 Kalashnikovs, dozen of artillery pieces, ammunition and many vehicles.On 29 October 1994 a large military convoy of the ISI which included Pakistan's Consul General in Herat and Colonel Imam, an experienced Pakistan agent, was held up by a dozen commanders in Takht-e Pul near Kandahar airport. Pakistan, after evaluating the options, paid the Taliban to attack the convoy on 3 November 1994. The commanders, believing it to be a Pakistan army attack, fled. The Taliban continued on to Kandahar where the 2500 men of Mullah Naqib did not resist, possibly due to a bribe by the Pakistan's ISI. The Taliban then took control of large amounts of military vehicles including 6 Mig-21 fighters and six transport helicopters.

Further of note in this period, during 1994, frustrated with Hekmatyar's lack of progress, the Pakistani government began to look for other options, particularly in opening a trade route to central Asia from Kandahar-Herat-Ashgabat rather than the preferred Peshawar-Kabul-Mazar route.


For most of the year, Rabbani and Massoud's forces controlled Kabul and 4-5 out of the 32 Afghan provinces, with the rest controlled by Dostum, Ismail Khan, the Taliban or the Council of the Eastern Provinces.

Large amounts of assassinations took place in 1995. In October Syed Mohammad Yousaf, a top Rabbani commander, was reportedly murdered as a result of internal strife within the Kabul coalition. Also in that month, Mamoor Ghayyur, former governor of northern Baghlan Province and Hezb-I-Islami member, and 15 others were ambushed and killed while travelling in Baghlan Province. Local press accounts suggested that NIM-allied General Jaffar Naderi ordered the assassination.

By January 1995 the Taliban's strength was 4000 and by February they controlled Kandahar (November 5), Helmand (November 25), Uruzgan, Zabul, Ghazni (January 24), Wardak (February 2) Logar (February 11), Khost (February 15), and Paktika (February 19). Most provinces fell without resistance. On 2 February 1995 the Taliban captured Wardak and on 10 February the capital of the province, Maiden Shehr fell after fighting left 200 dead.[36] At this point the Taliban was estimated to have approximately 25 000 supporters. Hekmatayr was driven out of Ghazni and retreated to Sarboi. Additionally on January 30, Dostum's forces captured Kunduz but lose them to Rabbani's forces on February 16.

On 14 February 1995, Hikmatyar was forced to abandoned his artillery positions at Charasiab due to the advance of the Taliban. The Taliban were therefore able to take control of this weaponry. In March, Massoud launched an offensive against Hezb-e Wahdat. Mazari allied himself with the Taliban, allowing Taliban to enter Kabul, although many of Wahdat's forces joined Massoud instead. Massoud's forces heavily bombarded Western Kabul driving Wahdat out. According to other reports the forces of Jamiat-e Islami also committed mass rape and executions on civilians in this period. The Taliban retreated under this, taking Mazari with him and throwing him from a helicopter on route to Kandahar. The Taliban then continued to launch offenses against Kabul, using the equipment of Hezbe Islami. While the Taliban retreated large amounts of looting and pillaging was said to have taken place in south-western Kabul by the forces under Rabbani and Massoud.

Meanwhile in the North, Dostum consolidated his forces and took control over the major population centers of Afghanistan, Kabul having largely been destroyed during the previous years. Mohammad Muhaqiq emerged as the leader of Hezb-e Wahdat in Northern Afghanistan, a position of significance after the expulsion of Wahdat from West Kabul. Furthermore this development would have great implications after the defection of Malik in 1996.

In late February the Taliban managed to capture Nimroz and Farah provinces, previously controlled by Ismail Khan, and advanced onto the former Soviet airbase at Shindand. Massoud's aircraft from Kabul bombarded Taliban positions while 2000 fighters were air lifted to help Ismail Khan defend his territory.

In March 1995 Massoud's forces are able to drive out the Taliban and retake Charasiab, leading to a relative period of calm for a few months. The battle left hundreds of Taliban dead and the force suffered its first defeat. Furthermore the battles near Shindand left approximately 3000 dead, with wounded left in the desert to die due to lack of medical facilities and poor logistics.

In August the Karte Seh section of Kabul, with a largely Hazara Shi'a population, came under rocket fire in two separate attacks resulting in the deaths of 18 people. The Taliban subsequently denied responsibility.

The Fall of Herat

On 23 August 1995 Ismail Khan, believing the Taliban to be falling apart, attacked and captured Dilaram and parts of Helmand, posing a significant threat to Kandahar. However the Taliban, who had rebuilt themselves over the summer and were in their home terrain were able to quickly mobilize 25 000 men and harass Khan's supply lines. Meanwhile, the forces of Dostum were enlisted and Uzbek technicians were sent to repair and service the MiG fighters and helicopters while Dostum's own planes began to bomb Herat. After his forces faced ambuses at Girishk, Khan ordered his forces to retreat, abandoning Shindand on 3 September 1995 without a fight. On 5 September 1995 Khan abandoned Herat and his forces, along with many civilians fled for safety into Iran.

The Taliban preceded to take control of Herat, thereby cutting off the land route connecting the Islamic State of Afghanistan with Iran. The Taliban's innovative use of mobile warfare appeared to indicate that Pakistan may have provided assistance or training for the capture of Herat. Ghor province surrendered as well following this. The city of Khost surrendered with little resistance despite being a stronghold of Hezb-e Islami. The camps set up by Hekmaytar were initially allowed to remain open, but as these camps became associated with anti-Taliban activity they were shut down on 17 September 1995.

In October the Taliban retookCharasiab. Between 11 and 13 November 1995 at least 57 unarmed civilians were killed and over 150 injured when rockets and artillery barrages fired from Taleban positions south of Kabul pounded the civilian areas of the city. On 11 November alone, 36 civilians were killed when over 170 rockets as well as shells hit civilians areas. A salvo crashed into Foruzga Market. Rockets struck the Taimani district where many people from other parts of Kabul have settled. Other residential areas hit by artillery and rocket attacks were the Bagh Bala district in the northwest of Kabul and Wazir Akbar Khan where much of the city's small foreign community live.

On 20 November 1995 the forces of the Taliban gave the government a 5 day ultimatum in which they would resume bombardment if Rabanni and his forces did not leave the city. This ultimatum was eventually withdrawn.

By the end of November and December, more than 150 people had died in Kabul due to the repeated rocketing, shelling, and high-altitude bombing of the city, reportedly by Taliban forces.


In June 1996 Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who had resigned as prime minister in 1994 to launch a military offensive against forces loyal to Rabbani, again assumed the post, this time to help Rabbani’s government fight the Taliban threat. Despite their efforts, Afghanistan's Taliban militia seized control of Kabul on September 27, 1996 soon after government forces abandoned the shattered capital. At this point Massoud's forces were as low as 10 000 while the Taliban had climbed to 30 000 members.. In its first action, the Islamic militant group hanged former President Najibullah and his brother from a tower. All key government installations appeared to be in Taliban's hands within hours, including the presidential palace and the ministries of defense, security and foreign affairs. Massoud was forced to retreat to the North. He began to obtain military assistance from Russia as well as Iran and the Northern Alliance was reconstituted in opposition to the Taliban.

The Taliban forces continued, capturing the Jamiat stronghold of Charikar and Jabal-us-Siraj, the later at the foot of the Panjshir Valley.In October Massoud had recaptured Bagram airbase but the Taliban were able to re-take control shortly after.
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