A video released on Saturday showed dozens of Taliban fighters inside the palace of Abdul Rashid Dostum, a former warlord who commands thousands of fighters, after the insurgents took over the strategic city of Mazar-i-Sharif in Afghanistan.
Dostum is one of two of Afghanistan’s most notorious regional strongmen who fled on Saturday as the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif fell to the Taliban and security forces abandoned the city in a headlong rush up the highway to the safety of neighboring Uzbekistan.
Atta Mohammad Noor, the former governor of Balkh province and the ethnic Uzbek leader Abdul Rashid Dostum have been involved in wars in Afghanistan since the days of the Soviet invasion and had been among the Taliban’s fiercest enemies.
Noor, who had been commanding local militia forces when Mazar-i-Sharif fell to the Taliban, said both he and Dostum were safe and blamed the fall of the city on a “conspiracy”.
Taliban forces entered the city virtually unopposed as security forces escaped up the highway to Uzbekistan, provincial officials said. Unverified pictures on social media showed Afghan army vehicles and men in uniforms crowding the iron bridge at the Hairatan crossing.
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