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As Taliban gain ground, Afghanistan army chief ‘replaced’

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 11

As the Taliban seized three more provincial capitals in Afghanistan and a local army headquarters, a Defence Ministry official and local media reports said President Ashraf Ghani had replaced the country’s army chief. Sources said Gen Hibatullah Alizai had replaced Gen Wali Ahmadzai as the Afghan army chief of staff.

Despite bleak US assessments about the holding power of Ashraf Ghani government in Afghanistan, some Indians have stayed behind in Mazar-i-Sharif city as former warlords and the Afghan Special Forces provide stiff resistance to the Taliban.

Speaking after the Taliban took into control a helicopter gunship gifted by India to Afghanistan after the capture of the Kunduz airport, sources here said the Kabul Government was pursuing the policy of wearing down the Taliban by withdrawing its forces to defend the cities rather than spreading itself thin in the entire country. The airport at Mazar was reported open and civilian flights were operating normally so far, they said.

Ghani has now turned to Abdul Rashid Dostum and Atta Mohammed Noor, who had rolled back the Taliban in 2001.The difference is that last time it was with the help of US air cover and other assistance from India, Russia and Iran.

Meanwhile, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said reports of violations that could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity were emerging from Afghanistan. These included “deeply disturbing reports” of the summary execution of surrendering government troops.

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