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Afghan Civil War (1992-1996)

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Title: Afghan Civil War (1992-1996)  
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Subject: Afghanistan, War in Afghanistan, Civil war in Afghanistan (1989–92), Battle of Kabul (1992–96)
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Afghan Civil War (1992-1996)

War in Afghanistan (1992–1996)
Part of the conflict in Afghanistan (1978–present)

Much of the civil infrastructure was ruined in Kabul due to the war. Hekmatyar's Hezb-i Islami is recorded as conducting the worst and major part of the shelling.
Date April 30, 1992 – September 27, 1996
(4 years, 4 months and 4 weeks)
Location Afghanistan
Result Islamic State of Afghanistan on September 26, 1996, retreats from Kabul to Northern Afghanistan and remains the internationally recognized government, Taliban enter Kabul on September 27, 1996, and establish the largely unrecognized Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, War in Afghanistan (1996-2001)
Afghanistan Islamic State of Afghanistan
Hezb-i Islami (until late 1994)
Supported by
Pakistan Pakistan

Hezb-i Wahdat (until Jan. 1995)
Supported by
Iran Iran

Junbish-i Milli (Jan. 1994-Aug. 1994)
Supported by
Uzbekistan Uzbekistan

Regional Kandahar militia leaders

Taliban (from late 1994)
Supported by
Pakistan Pakistan

Al Qaeda (from early 1996)

Commanders and leaders
Afghanistan Burhanuddin Rabbani
Afghanistan Ahmad Shah Massoud
Afghanistan Hussain Anwari
Afghanistan Sibghatullah Mojaddedi
Afghanistan Abdul Haq
AfghanistanAbdul Rasul Sayyaf
Abdul Ali Mazari Afghanistan
Karim Khalili
Afghanistan Abdul Rashid Dostum
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar

Abdul Ali Mazari
Karim Khalili

Abdul Rashid Dostum

Gul Agha Sherzai

Mohammed Omar
Osama Bin Laden
Ayman al-Zawahiri
Wahdat worked with the Islamic Government of Afghanistan until it withdrew in late 1992 joining Hezb-i Islami. Dostum, previously allied with Massoud, joined forces with Hekmatyar in 1994. Harakat remaining allied to Jamiat generally fought with Wahdat against Ittehad, however occasionally it fought against Wahdat as well. In 1995 Massoud and the ISA forces were able to control most of Kabul.

The 1992 to 1996 phase of the conflict in Afghanistan (1978–present) began after the resignation of the communist President Najibullah. The post-communist Islamic State of Afghanistan was established by the Peshawar Accord, a peace and power-sharing agreement under which all the Afghan parties were united in April 1992, except for the Hezb-e Islami of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar started a bombardment campaign against the capital city Kabul which marked the beginning of this new phase in the war. In direct contrast to the Soviet time, the countryside witnessed relative calm during that period while major cities such as Kabul, Mazar-e Sharif and Kandahar witnessed violent fighting.


Following the Soviet withdrawal in 1989 and the collapse of the Afghan communist Najibullah regime in 1992 the Afghan political parties agreed on a peace and power-sharing agreement, the Peshawar Accord. The Peshawar Accord established the Islamic State of Afghanistan and appointed an interim government for a transitional period to be followed by general elections.[1] All Afghan parties agreed to the peace- and power-sharing agreement, except for Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.[2] Although offered the position of prime minister, Hekmatyar wanted to become the sole ruler of Afghanistan.[3]

According to Peter Tomsen, neighboring Pakistan had tried to install Gulbuddin Hekmatyar in power in Afghanistan against the opposition of all other mujahideen commanders and factions as early as 1990.[4] In October 1990, the Inter-Services Intelligence had devised a plan for Hekmatyar to conduct a mass bombardment of the Afghan capital Kabul, then still under communist rule, with possible Pakistani troop enforcements.[4] This unilateral ISI-Hekmatyar plan came although the thirty most important mujahideen commanders had agreed on holding a conference inclusive of all Afghan groups to decide on a common future strategy.[4] Peter Tomsen reports that the protest by the other mujahideen commanders was like a "firestorm". Ahmad Zia Massoud, the brother of Ahmad Shah Massoud, said that his faction strongly opposed the plan and like other factions would take measures if any "Pakistani troops reinforced Hekmatyar". Abdul Haq was reportedly so angry about the ISI plan that he was "red in the face".[4] And Nabi Mohammad, another commander, pointed out that "Kabul's 2 million could not escape Hekmatyar's rocket bombardment - there would be a massacre."[4] Massoud's, Abdul Haq's and Amin Wardak's representatives said that "Hekmatyar's rocketing of Kabul ... would produce a civilian bloodbath."[4] The United States finally put pressure on Pakistan to stop the 1990 plan, which was subsequently called off until 1992.[4]

Two years later, according to several academic studies, although its civil leadership had publicly taken part in drafting the Peshawar Accord, Pakistan's ruling military establishment was opposed to the new developments in neighboring Afghanistan. Afghanistan expert Neamatollah Nojumi writes, "[t]hese new political and military developments in Afghanistan forced the Pakistani intelligence agency ISI to organize a military plan with forces belonging to Hekmatyar's Hezb-i Islami ... This militaristic plan aimed to capture Kabul and was in full force when ... the rest of the Muhajideen leaders in Pakistan agreed to the UN peace plan. On the eve of the successful implementation of the UN peace plan in Afghanistan the ISI, through Hekmatyar and non-Afghan volunteers, led hundreds of trucks loaded with weapons and fighters to the southern part of Kabul."[5]

The Director of the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies at the Australian National University, Amin Saikal, similarly concludes in "Modern Afghanistan" (which was chosen by the Wall Street Journal as "one of the five best books on Afghanistan"): "Pakistan was keen to gear up for a breakthrough in Central Asia. ... Islamabad could not possibly expect the new Islamic government leaders ... to subordinate their own nationalist objectives in order to help Pakistan realize its regional ambitions. ... Had it not been for the ISI's logistic support and supply of a large number of rockets, Hekmatyar's forces would not have been able to target and destroy half of Kabul."[1]

The United Nations in collaboration with the newly appointed Afghan Minister of Defense, Ahmad Shah Massoud, repeatedly tried to integrate Hekmatyar into the new government, but Hekmatyar started shelling Kabul.[6]

According to a publication with the George Washington University, when Hekmatyar in 1994 had failed to "deliver for Pakistan", Pakistan turned towards a new force: the Taliban.[7] Amin Saikal also states: "Yet Hekmatyar's failure to achieve what was expected of him [later] prompted the ISI leaders to come up with a new surrogate force [the Taliban]."[1] Although Pakistan initially followed a policy of denial with regards to support to the Taliban,[8] senior Pakistani officials such as Interior Minister Naseerullah Babar would later state, "we created the Taliban"[9] and former Pakistani President Musharraf would write "we sided" with the Taliban to "spell the defeat" of anti-Taliban forces.[10]

Many studies report that Pakistan was not the only regional power interfering in Afghanistan. Shia Iran and Sunni Wahabbi Saudi Arabia as competitors for regional hegemony encouraged violent conflict among two other factions. On the one side was the Shia Hazara Hezb-i Wahdat of Abdul Ali Mazari and on the other side the Sunni Pashtun Ittihad-i Islami of Abdul Rasul Sayyaf. According to Human Rights Watch, Iran was strongly supporting the Hezb-i Wahdat forces with Iranian intelligence officials providing direct orders while Saudi Arabia supported Sayyaf and his Ittihad-i Islami faction to maximize Wahhabi influence.[2] The interim government and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) repeatedly tried to negotiate ceasefires, which broke down in only a few days.[2]

Another militia, the Junbish-i Milli of former communist general Abdul Rashid Dostum was backed by Uzbekistan.[1] Uzbek president Karimov was keen to see Dostum controlling as much of Afghanistan as possible especially in the north.[1] Dostum repeatedly changed allegiances.

The newly created Islamic State of Afghanistan, while initially enjoying strong support inside Afghanistan especially in Kabul and the northern and eastern regions, received no notable outside support during the time.

Internal developments

Main article: Civil war in Afghanistan (1989–1992)

In April 1992, the Russian-backed Afghan communist government of Najibullah could no longer sustain itself against the Afghan mujahideen. With the end of the Soviet Union, Najibullah's regime lost its strongest backer. After a Russian agreement to end fuel shipments to Afghanistan, Najibullah's regime began to collapse. 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.

On April 14, 1992 it was confirmed that Ahmad Shah Massoud and Shura-e Nazar/Jamiat-e Islami forces had taken Charikar and Jabalussaraj in Parwan province with only minimal fighting.[11] At this point it was reported that Massoud had approximately 20,000 troops stationed to the north of Kabul.[12] It was further reported that the Government's Second Division had joined Massoud. Ahmad Shah Massoud's mujahideen, allied with Sayyid Mansor's Ismailis, the Harakat-e Islami and former communist general Abdul Rashid Dostum's Junbish-i Milli forces, also captured Afghanistan's major air force base Bagram, seventy kilometers north of Kabul.[13] As the communist government broke into several factions the issue had become how to carry out a transfer of power. Najibullah attempted to flee from Kabul on April 17, but was stopped by Dostum's troops who controlled Kabul International Airport. Najibullah then took refuge at the United Nations mission where he remained unharmed as long as the area of the mission remained under Massoud control. Senior communist generals and officials of the Najibullah administration acted as a transitional authority to transfer power to Ahmad Shah Massoud's alliance.[13][14] The Kabul interim authority invited Massoud to enter Kabul as the new Head of State, but he held back.[15] Massoud ordered his forces, positioned to the north of Kabul, not to enter the capital until a political solution was in place.[16] He called on the senior party leaders based in exile in Peshawar to work out a political settlement acceptable to all sides and parties.[1]

Meanwhile, other mujahideen factions were starting to advance towards the capital city Kabul from different sides, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hezb-e Islami from the south, Abdul Rasul Sayyaf's Ittehad-i Islami from the west, Abdul Ali Mazari's Hezb-e Wahdat also from the west and the Hezb-e Islami Khalis from the east.

The international community in the form of the United Nations and most Afghan political parties decided to appoint a legitimate national government, to succeed communist rule, through an elite settlement among the different resistance parties.[1]

While the external Afghan party leaders were meeting in Peshawar, the military situation around Kabul involving the internal commanders was tense. While Massoud supported the Peshawar process of establishing a broad coalition government inclusive of all sides, Hekmatyar sought to become the sole ruler of Afghanistan stating, "In our country coalition government is impossible because, this way or another, it is going to be weak and incapable of stabilizing the situation in Afghanistan."[3] Massoud pertained: "All the parties had participated in the war, in jihad in Afghanistan, so they had to have their share in the government, and in the formation of the government. Afghanistan is made up of different nationalities. We were worried about a national conflict between different tribes and different nationalities. In order to give everybody their own rights and also to avoid bloodshed in Kabul, we left the word to the parties so they should decide about the country as a whole. We talked about it for a temporary stage and then after that the ground should be prepared for a general election."[5]

A recorded radio communication between the two leaders showed the divide as Massoud asked Hekmatyar: "The Kabul regime is ready to surrender, so instead of the fighting we should gather. ... The leaders are meeting in Peshawar. ... The troops should not enter Kabul, they should enter later on as part of the government." Hekmatyar's response: "We will march into Kabul with our naked sword. No one can stop us. ... Why should we meet the leaders?" Massoud answered: "It seems to me that you don't want to join the leaders in Peshawar nor stop your threat, and you are planning to enter Kabul ... in that case I must defend the people."[17]

At that point even Massoud's adversary Osama bin Laden, who had worked extensively with Hekmatyar in Peshawar, urged Hekmatyar to "go back with your brothers" and to accept a compromise with the other resistance parties.[15] But Hekmatyar refused, confident that he would be able to gain sole power in Afghanistan.[15]

On April 24, 1992, the leaders in Peshawar agreed on and signed the Peshawar Accord establishing the post-communist Islamic State of Afghanistan. The Peshawar Accord created an interim government for a transitional period to be followed by general elections. The interim government was led by 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. The Defense Ministry was given to Massoud while the Prime Ministership was given to Hekmatyar. Hekmatyar refused to sign. With the exception of Hekmatyar's Hezb-e Islami, all of the other parties were unified under this peace and power-sharing accord in April 1992.




The war started when Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hezb-e Islami with the help of some Khalqi elements from the former communist regime (which would later join the Taliban) started to infiltrate Kabul to take power for itself violating the peace and power-sharing agreement, Peshawar Accord, just signed by all other Afghan parties. This forced other parties to advance on the capital as well.[18] Hekmatyar had asked other groups such as Harakat-Inqilab-i-Islami and Khalis faction to join him while entering Kabul, but they declined his offer and instead backed the Peshawar Accords. Hezb-i Islami entered the city from the south and west but were quickly expelled. The forces of Jamiat and Shura-i Nazar entered the city, with agreement from Nabi Azimi and the Commander of the Kabul Garrison, General Abdul Wahid Baba Jan that they would enter the city through Bagram, Panjshir, Salang and Kabul Airport.[19] Many government forces, including generals, joined Jamiat,[19] including the forces of General Baba Jan, who was at the time in charge of the garrison of Kabul. On April 27, all other major parties such as Junbish, Wahdat, Ittihad and Harakat had entered the city as well.[20] After suffering heavy casualties, Hezb-e Islami forces deserted their positions and fled to the outskirts of Kabul in direction of Logar province.

Kabul came completely under Islamic State control on April 30, 1992, but the situation was far from stabilized. The Hezb-i Islami had been driven out, but they were still within artillery range. In May 1992 Hekmatyar started a bombardment campaign against the capital city firing thousands of rockets supplied by Pakistan.[1] In addition to the bombardment campaign, Hekmatyar's forces had overrun Pul-e-Charkhi prison while still in the centre of Kabul, and had set free all the inmates, including many criminals, who were able to take arms and commit gruesome crimes against the population.[21] With a yet to establish new government structure, chaos broke out in Kabul.

The immediate objective of the interim government was to defeat the forces acting against the peace agreement (the Peshawar Accord). A renewed attempt at peace talks on May 25, 1992 again agreed to give Hekmatyar the position of prime minister, however, this lasted less than a week after Hekmatyar attempted to shoot down the plane of President Mujaddidi.[22] Furthermore as part of the peace talks Hekmatyar was demanding the departure of Dostum's forces, which would have titled the scales.[22] This led to fighting between Dostum and Hekmatyar. On May 30, 1992, during fighting between the forces of Dostum's Junbish-i Milli and Hekmatyar's Hizb-i Islami in the southeast of Kabul, both sides used artillery and rockets killing and injuring an unknown number of civilians.[19]


In June 1992, as scheduled, Burhanuddin Rabbani became president of Afghanistan.

From the onset of the battle, Jamiat and Shura-i Nazar controlled the strategic high areas, and were thus able to develop a vantage point within the city from which opposition forces could be targeted. Hekmatyar continued to bombard Kabul with rockets. 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 that has been well-documented.[20][23] 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 Hekmatyar's positions near the Jalalabad Custom's Post, and in the districts around Hood Khil, Qala-e Zaman Khan and near Pul-e-Charkhi prison. On June 10 it was reported that Dostum's forces had also begun nightly bombardments of Hezb-i Islami positions.[24]

Particularly noticeable in this period was the escalation of the fight in West Kabul between the Shi'a Wahdat forces supported by Iran 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 May 31, 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 of the passengers was killed.[25] 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.[26] 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. On 24 June 1992 the Jamhuriat hospital located near the Interior Ministry was bombed and closed. Jamiat and Shura-i Nazara sometimes joined the conflict when their positions came under attack by Wahdat forces and in June/July bombarded Hizb-i Wahdat positions in return. Harakat forces also sometimes joined the fight.


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.[24] By August 20 it was reported that 500, 000 people had fled Kabul.[27] 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 counterattack more than 100 were killed and 120 wounded.[28]

Hezb-i 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. All sides used non-precision rockets such as Sakre rockets and the UB-16 and UB-32 S-5 airborne rocket launchers.

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. 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-i Wahdat and Hezb-i Islami against the Islamic State of Afghanistan. While Hizb-i Islami joined in bombardments to support Wahdat, Wahdat conducted joint offensives, such as the one to secure Darulaman.[29] 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.[30]

About the Bombardments

Throughout the war, the most devastating aspect of it remained the indiscriminate shelling of the city by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and later Rashid Dostum in the conflict. Although most sides engaged in bombardments, some were more indiscriminate in their targeting.

As Jamiat-i 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-i Islami had done. 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.[31]

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

In 1994 the forces of Rashid Dostum were involved in indiscriminate shelling.

Kandahar During the Same Time

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 and who were not affiliated with the interim government in Kabul. The bullet riddled city came to be a centre of lawlessness, crime and atrocities fuelled by complex Pashtun tribal rivalries.



On January 3, 1993, Burhanuddin Rabbani, the leader of the Jamiat-i 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 militia factions. 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.[32] Hundreds were killed and wounded while many houses were destroyed in this clash between Hizb-i Islami and Jamiat-i Islami.

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 that 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.[33] 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.[34] Further rockets bombardments took place on February 26, 1993 as Shura-i Nazara and Hezb-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 by Hekmatyar's Hezb-i Islami and Hezb-i Wahdat in Kabul left another 10 dead.[35]

See the main article for more information:
Main article: Afshar Operation

The Afshar Operation was a military operation by Burhanuddin Rabbani's Islamic State of Afghanistan government forces against Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hezb-i Islami and Hezb-i Wahdat forces that took place in February 1993. The Iran-controlled Hezb-i Wahdat together with the Pakistani-backed Hezb-i Islami of Hekmatyar were shelling densely populated areas in Kabul from their positions in Afshar. To counter these attack Islamic State forces attacked Afshar in order to capture the positions of Wahdat, capture Wahdat's leader Abdul Ali Mazari and to consolidate parts of the city controlled by the government. The operation took place in a densely populated district of Kabul, the Afshar district. Afshar district is situated on the slopes of Mount Afshar in west Kabul. The district is predominantly home to the Hazara ethnic group. The Ittihad troops of Abdul Rasul Sayyaf escalated the operation into a rampage against civilians. Both Ittihad and Wahdat forces have severely targeted civilians in their war. The Wahhabist Ittihad supported by Saudi Arabia was targeting Shias, while the Iran-controlled Wahdat was targeting Sunni Muslims as well as their own people.!!


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's condition had been the resignation of Massoud as minister of defense. The parties agreed to a new peace accord in Jalalabad on May 20 under which Massoud agreed to relinquish the post of Defense Minister. Massoud had resigned in order to gain peace. Hekmatyar at first accepted the post of prime minister but after attending only one cabinet meeting he left Kabul again starting to bomb Kabul leaving more than 700 dead in bombing raids, street battles and rocket attacks in and around Kabul. Massoud returned to the position of minister of defense to defend the city against the rocket attacks.



The war changed dramatically in January 1994. Dostum, for different reasons, joined with the forces of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Hezb-i Islami, along with their new allies of Wahdat and Junbish-i Milli, launched the Shura Hamaghangi campaign against the forces of Massoud and the interim government. During this, Hezb-i Islami was able make use of Junbish's air force in both bombing the positions of Jamiat and in resupplying their men. This led to greater artillery bombardment on behalf of Hezb-i Islami.[23] Hezb-i Islami and Junbish were able to hold parts of central Kabul during this time. Junbish forces were particularly singled out for committing looting, rape and murder, for the sole reason that they could get away with it.[36] Some commanders such as Shir Arab, commander of the 51st regiment,[37] Kasim Jangal Bagh, Ismail Diwaneh ["Ismail the Mad"], and Abdul Cherikwere[38] particularly singled out. According to Afghanistan Justice Project, during this period until June 1994, 25,000 people were killed. Areas around Microraion were particularly bloody. By now the population of Kabul had dropped from 2,000,000 during Soviet times to 500,000 due to a large exodus from Kabul.[39]

However, by the end of 1994 Junbish and Dostum were on the defensive, and Massoud's forces had ousted them from most of their strongholds. Massoud more and more gained control of Kabul. At the same time Junbish was able to push Jamiat out of Mazar-e Sharif.


Significant changes occurred in 1994 in how the war was conducted and who fought on 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 according to academic consensus and on-the-ground reports attracted the support of Pakistan[40][41][42][43][44][45][46][47] who was unhappy with the unsuccessful Hekmatyar, which saw in the Taliban a way to secure trade routes to Central Asia and establish a government in Kabul friendly to its interests.[48][49][50][51] Pakistani politicians during that time repeatedly denied supporting the Taliban, which has been described by reliable sources as an explicit 'policy of denial'.[8][52] But senior Pakistani officials such as Interior Minister Naseerullah Babar would later state, "we created the Taliban"[9] and former Pakistani President Musharraf would write "we sided" with the Taliban to "spell the defeat" of anti-Taliban forces.[10] 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 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.[53]

Also in October 1994, the Taliban revolted in Kandahar, capturing the city on November 5, 1994 and soon going on to capture most of the south.


Rabbani refuses to step down at the end of his term on 28 December 1994, and on January 1 UN peace envoy Mahmoud Mistiri returns to Kabul.[54] On 10 January he offers to step down and turn over power to a 23 member UN interim administration if Hikmatyar agrees to withdraw. On 12 January a cease fire is agreed, but bombing begins again on 19 January, killing at least 22.[55] Between 22 January and 31 January, Dostum's Junbish party bombs government positions in Kunduz town and province, killing 100 people are and wounding over 120. The town falls to Dostum on February 5. Rabbani further delays his resignation on the 22nd, stating he will resign on the 21st.[56] In late January, Ghazni falls to the Taliban. Hikmatyar loses hundreds of men and several tanks in the battle, which included a temporary alliance between the Taliban and the forces of Rabbani.[56]

Meanwhile, the Taliban began to approach Kabul, capturing Wardak in early February and Maidan Shar, the provincial capital, on February 10, 1995. On February 14, 1995, Hekmatyar was forced to abandoned his artillery positions at Charasiab due to the advance of the Taliban, who were, therefore, able to take control of this weaponry. During 25–27 February clashes broke out in Karte Seh, Kote Sangi and Karte Chahar between government forces and Hizb-e Wahdat, resulting in 10 dead and 12 wounded.[56] In March, Massoud launched an offensive against Hizb-e Wahdat trapping Wahdat forces in Karte Seh and Kote Sangi. On March 8, unable to retreat with the Taliban in the rear, Mazari allied himself with the Taliban, allowing them to enter Kabul, although many of Wahdat's forces joined Massoud instead. At this time, Massoud's forces heavily bombarded Western Kabul, managing to drive Wahdat out. According to other reports, the forces of Jamiat-e Islami also committed mass rape and executions on civilians in this period.[57] The Taliban retreated under the bombardment, taking Mazari with them and throwing him from a helicopter en route to Kandahar. The Taliban then continued to launch offenses against Kabul, using the equipment of Hizb-e 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 against ethnic Hazaras.[58] Estimates of civilian casualties from this period of fighting are 100 killed and 1000 wounded.[56]

Starting on 12 March 1995 Massoud's forces launched an offensive against the Taliban and were able to drive them out from the area around Kabul, retaking Charasiab on 19 March and leading to a period of relative calm for a few months. The battle left hundreds of Taliban dead and the force suffered its first defeat. However, while retreating, the Taliban shelled the capital, Kabul. On 16 March, Rabbani stated, once again, that he will not resign. On 30 March, a grave of 22 male corpses, 20 of which were shot in the head, is found in Charasiab.[56]

On 4 April, the Taliban killed about 800 government soldiers and captured 300 more in Farah Province, but are later forced to retreat.[56] In early May, Rabbani's forces attack the Taliban in Maidan Shar.[56] India and Pakistan agree to reopen their diplomatic missions in Kabul on 3–4 May. On 11 May, Ismail Khan and Rabbani's forces recapture Farah from the Taliban. Ismail Khan reportedly used cluster bombs, killing 220–250 unarmed civilians.[56] Between 14 and 16 May, Helmand and Nimruz fall to Rabbani and Khan's forces. On May 20, Wahdat forces captured Bamiyan. On June 5, Dostum's forces attacked Rabbani's forces in Samangan. More than 20 are killed, and both forces contineu to fight in Baghlan. On 9 June, a 10 day truce is signed between the government and the Taliban. On 15 June, Dostum bombed Kabul and Kunduz. Two 550 lb bombs are dropped in a residential area of Kabul, killing two and injuring one. Three land near the defence ministry.[56] On 20 June, the government recaptured Bamiyan. On 23 July, Dostum and Wahdat managed to recapture Bamiyan. On 3 August, the Taliban hijacked a Russian cargo aircraft in Kandahar and captured weapons intended for Rabbani. The Government captured Girishk and Helmand from the Taliban on 28 August, but were unable to hold Girishk. In September, Dostum forces captured Badghis. The Taliban were able to capture Farah on 2 September, and Shindand on the 3rd. On 5 September, Herat fell, with Ismail Khan fleeing to Mashhad. Some attribute this to the informal alliance between Dostum and the Taliban, along with Dostum's bombing of the city.[56] Iran followed by closing the border. On 6 September, a mob swarms the Pakistani embassy in Kabul, killing one and wounding 26, including the Pakistani ambassador.

On 11 October, the Taliban retook Charasiab. The National Reconciliation Commission presented its proposals for peace on the same day. On 15 October, Bamiyan fell to the Taliban. Between November 11–13, 1995 at least 57 unarmed civilians were killed and over 150 injured when rockets and artillery barrages fired from Taliban positions south of Kabul pounded the civilian areas of the city. On November 11 alone, 36 civilians were killed when over 170 rockets as well as shells hit civilians areas. A salvo crashed into Foruzga Market, while another 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 lived.[59] In the north, Rabbani's forces fought for control of the Balkh Province, reclaiming many districts from Dostum.

On November 20, 1995, Taliban forces gave the government a 5 day ultimatum in which they would resume bombardment if Rabbani and his forces did not leave the city. This ultimatum was eventually withdrawn.[59] By the end of 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.[58]


On 2–3 January, Taliban rocket attacks killed 20 to 24 people and wound another 43–56.[56] On 10 January, a peace proposal was presented to the Taliban and opposition. On 14, January Hikmatyar blocks Kabul's western route, leaving the city surrounded. However, in mid-January, Iran intervened and the Khalili faction of Hizb-e Wahdat signed a peace agreement that lead to the opening of the Kabul-Bamiyan road. On 20 January, factional fighting broke out among the Taliban in Kandahar. On 1 February, Taliban jet-bombed a residential area in Kabul, killing 10 civilians. On 3 February, the Red Cross began to airlift supplies into Kabul.[56] On 6 February, the road is used to bring in more food. On 26 February, Hikmatyar and the pro-Dostum Ismaili faction of Sayed Jafar Nadiri fought in Pul-i Khumri, Baghlan Province. Hundreds were killed before a ceasefire was reached on the 4th of March and the Ismaili faction lost 11 important positions.[56]

In 1996, the Taliban returned to seize Kabul, this time as analysts such as Ahmed Rashid describe with the decisive support of Pakistan[60] as well as Osama Bin Laden and Saudi Arabia. Massoud withdrew his forces from Kabul in order to avoid further bloodshed in the capital. In its first action, the Islamic militant group hanged former President Najibullah and his brother from a tower after they had tortured them to death. 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. The Taliban, who had started with the promise to save the people, started to commit large scale massacres especially against the Hazara and Shia population. On 7 March, Hikmatyar and the Burhanuddin Rabbani government sign an agreement to take military action against the Taliban.

On 11 April, the government captured Saghar district in Ghor province from the Taliban, along with large stores of ammunition. Fighting continues, however, in Chaghcharan, and the Taliban captured Shahrak district.[56] On 4 May, the Iranian embassy in Kabul was shelled and two staff members were wounded. On 12 May, Hikmatyar's forces arrived in Kabul to help defend against the Taliban. On 24 May, another peace agreement was signed between Rabbani and Hikmatyar. On 24 June, Rasool Pahlawan was killed in an ambush near Mazar-i Sharif. This would later have significant impact on the balance of power in the North.

On 3 July, a 10 member cabinet is formed. Hikmatyar's party got the ministries of defense and finance; Rabbani got the ministries of interior and foreign affairs; Sayyaf's party got education, information and culture,while Harakat-i-Islami got planning and labor and social welfare and the Wahdat Akbari faction got commerce. 12 other seats were left open for other factions.[56]

On 8 August government forces captured Chaghcharan, but lost it again. On 11 September, Jalalabad fell to the Taliban, who then marched on Sarobi. On 12 September, the Taliban captured Mihtarlam in Laghman province. On 22 September, Kunar province fell to the Taliban, and so did Sarobi, on the 26th, with 50 killed and large quantities of ammunition captured.[56] On 26 September, Kabul was attacked, falling the following day. On 5 October, the Taliban attack Massoud's forces in the Salang Pass but suffer heavy losses. On 1 October, Massoud retook Jabal Saraj and Charikar. Bagram was taken back a weak later. On 15–19 October, Qarabagh changed hands before being captured by Massoud and Dostum's forces.[56] During 21–30 October, Massoud's forces stalled on the way to the capital. On 25 October, the Taliban claimed to have captured Badghis province and started to attack Dostum's forces in Faryab. On 27–28 October, anti-Taliban forces attempted to recapture Kabul but were unable to do so. On 30 October Dara-I-Nur District in Nangarhar province fell to anti-Taliban forces but was retaken in early November. Fighting also occurred in Baghdis province with no significant gains from either side. Ismail Khan's forces were flown in from Iran to support the anti-Taliban alliance. On 4 November, Dostum's forces bombed the Herat airport and anti-Taliban forces took control of Nurgal district in Konar province. Between 9 and 12 of November, Dostum's jets bombed the Kabul airport, and between 11 and 16 approximately 50,000 people, mostly Pashtuns, arrived in Herat province, fleeing the fight in Badghis. On 20 November, the UNHCR halted all activities in Kabul. On 21–22 December, anti-Taliban demonstrations occurred in Herat as women demanded assistance from international organizations, but it was violently dispersed. On 28–29 December a major offensive is launched against Bagram airbase and the base is surrounded.[56]

The United Front, known in the Pakistani and Western media as Northern Alliance, was created in opposition to the Taliban under the leadership of Massoud. In the following years over 1 million people fled the Taliban, many arriving to the areas controlled by Massoud. Freed from the horrific situation that had stopped his plans for Afghanistan in Kabul, Ahmad Shah Massoud established democratic structures in the areas under his control.

See also


External links

  • Afghanistan – the Squandered Victory by the BBC (documentary film directly from the year 1989 explaining the beginning of the turmoil to follow)
    • Afghanistan 1989
  • Massoud's Conversation with Hekmatyar (original document from 1992)
    • The Conversation
  • Commander Massoud's Struggle by Nagakura Hiromi (from 1992, one month after the collapse of the communist regime, after Hekmatyar was repelled to the southern outskirts of Kabul, before he started the heavy bombardment of Kabul with the support of Pakistan)
    • Hekmatyar attacks Kabul but is repelled
    • Massoud is popular among the people who also trust him to rebuild their country
    • Massoud tries to prevent war between Ittehad and Wahdat
    • Massoud talks about his convictions
  • Starving to Death Afghanistan (documentary report) by Journeyman Pictures/ABC Australia (from March 1996)
    • Taliban attack Kabul and Massoud
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