Civil war in Afghanistan (1992–1996)

Civil war in Afghanistan (1992–1996)
War in Afghanistan (1992–1996)
Part of the Afghan Civil War
Date April 30, 1992 – September 27, 1996
Location Afghanistan
Result (in 1996) the Taliban of Mullah Omar control 80% of the country, Massoud's United Front controls 20 %
Afghanistan Islamic State of Afghanistan,

Afghanistan Shura-i Nazar,
Afghanistan Jamiat-i Islami,
Afghanistan Harakat-i Islami,
Afghanistan Ittehad-i Islami backed by Saudi Arabia,

Afghanistan Hezb-i Wahdat (until Dec. 1992),
Afghanistan Junbish-i Milli (until 1994)

Hezb-i Islami backed by Pakistan (until 1995),

Hezb-i Wahdat controlled by Iran (from Dec. 1992),
Junbish-i Milli backed by Uzbekistan (from 1994)

Afghanistan Taliban backed by  Pakistan (from late 1994)

Al Qaeda (from early 1996)
Commanders and leaders
Afghanistan Burhanuddin Rabbani,
Afghanistan Ahmad Shah Massoud,
Afghanistan Hussain Anwari,
Afghanistan Abdul Rasul Sayyaf,

Afghanistan Abdul Ali Mazari and Karim Khalili (until Dec. 1992),
Afghanistan Abdul Rashid Dostum (until 1994)

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (until 1995),

Abdul Ali Mazari and Karim Khalili (from Dec. 1992),
Abdul Rashid Dostum (from 1994)

Afghanistan Mohammed Omar,
Osama Bin Laden,
Ayman al-Zawahiri
25,000[citation needed] (1996)
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. Pakistan stopped support to Hekmatyar in 1995, and supported the Taliban instead. Without Pakistani support and with the arrival of the Taliban Hekmatyar stopped fighting against the Islamic State of Afghanistan.

The 1992 to 1996 phase of the Afghan Civil War 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.



Foreign intrusion and responsibility for the War

After 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 Accords) in early 1992. An Afghan interim government was appointed by the Peshawar Accords to initiate a process leading towards national elections. Pakistan was strictly opposed to the new developments in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan expert Neamatollah Nojumi states: "These 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."[1] Well-known Afghanistan expert, Amin Saikal, concludes in his book, 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, especially Massoud (who had always maintained his independence from Pakistan), 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."

Human Rights Watch writes: "The sovereignty of Afghanistan was vested formally in "The Islamic State of Afghanistan," an entity created in April 1992, after the fall of the Soviet-backed Najibullah government. ... With the exception of Hekmatyar's Hezb-e Islami, all of the parties ... were ostensibly unified under this government in April 1992 (but as described below, Wahdat later changed sides, in late 1992, and allied with [Hekmatyar and] Hezb-e Islami). ... Hekmatyar's Hezb-e Islami, for its part, refused to recognize the government for most of the period discussed in this report and launched attacks against government forces and Kabul generally. ... Hekmatyar continued to refuse to join the government. Hekmatyar's Hezb-e Islami forces increased their rocket and shell attacks on the city. Shells and rockets fell everywhere."[2]

A publication with the George Washington University also describes: "[O]utside forces saw instability in Afghanistan as an opportunity to press their own security and political agendas. ... Initially, the Pakistanis supported ... Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, an incompetent commander from the Mujahideen days ... When Hekmatyar failed to deliver for Pakistan, the administration began to support a new movement of religious students known as the Taliban."[3] A documentary reports: "Massoud, whose northern council was the dominant military power tried to keep order while the parties talked, but meantime, Pakistan urged on its Afghan client Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. ... Massoud, with UN help tried to avoid civil war in the early 1990s but ... Hekmatyar rained rockets on Kabul seeking power for himself."[4] Amin Saikal further explains: "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]."[5]

Meanwhile, according to Human Rights Watch, numerous Iranian agents were assisting Hezb-i Wahdat forces, as Iran was attempting to maximize Wahdat's military power and influence in the new government.[2] Saudi agents of some sort, private or governmental, were trying to strengthen Sayyaf and his Ittihad-i Islami faction to the same end.[2] Rare ceasefires, usually negotiated by representatives of Massoud, Mujaddidi or Rabbani, or officials from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), commonly collapsed within days.[2]

Rashid Dostum and Junbish-i Milli meanwhile were backed by Uzbekistan.[5] Uzbek president Karimov was keen to see Dostum controlling as much of Afghanistan as possible especially in the north.[5]

Massoud and 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 outside support during the time.

Historical circumstances

See the following article for more information:

With the end of the Soviet Union, Najibullah's regime lost all credibility and by 1992, after a Russian agreement to end fuel shipments to Afghanistan, Najibullah's regime began to collapse. In April 1992, General Abdul Rashid Dostum defected to the forces of Ahmed Shah Massoud and began to take control of Kabul. On April 14, 1992 it was confirmed that Massoud and his forces had taken Charikar and Jabalussaraj in Parwan province with only minimal fighting.[6] At this point it was reported that Massoud had approximately 20,000 troops stationed around Kabul.[7] It was further reported that the Government's Second Division had joined Massoud. General Mohammad Nabil Azimi then proceeded to reinforce Bagram Air Base and sent further reinforcements to the outer perimeter 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.[8]

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. Najibullah attempted to flee from of 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 until 1995. A group of Parchami generals and officials declared themselves an interim government for the purpose of handing over power to the dominant and most popular military force: Massoud.[8]

Massoud hesitated to enter Kabul, waiting for the political parties to reach a peace and power-sharing agreement first. In April 1992, with the Peshawar Accords, an interim government was 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. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar was given the post of Prime Minister, but he did not accept this position for he did not want to share power and Pakistan was urging him to take power for himself. Massoud in a recorded conversation tried to convince Hekmatyar to join the peace agreement and not to enter Kabul.see video But Hekmatyar replied he would enter the capital with "our naked sword. No one can stop us."[9] Hekmatyar's Hezb-i Islami forces began to infiltrate Kabul. This forced Massoud to advance on the capital in order to preserve the Peshawar Accords and prevent the establishment of a Hekmatyar dictatorship.[10]

The different Mujahideen groups entered Kabul from different directions. Hezb-i Islami made the first move and entered the city from the south. 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 like Massoud. Hekmatyar's men were armed and financed by Pakistan. Jamiat-i Islami, the party of Massoud, had seized massive amount of weapons while overrunning the communist garrisons in Bagram, Charikar, Takhar, Kunduz, Fayzabad and other northern cities. Adding to that, all the forces of Junbish-i Milli had aligned themselves to the Jamiat, and the former communist 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 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 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.

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, and soon started firing tens of thousands of rockets into the city supplied by Pakistan.

When the Hekmatyar's forces had overrun Pul-e-Charkhi prison while still in the centre of Kabul, they had set free all the inmates, including many criminals, who were able to take arms and commit gruesome exactions against the population.[11] With the government institutions either collapsing or participating in the factional fighting, maintaining order in Kabul became almost impossible. The scene was set for the next phase of the war.




The immediate objective of the interim government was to defeat the forces acting against the peace agreement (the Peshawar Accords), particularly Hekmatyar's Hezb-i Islami (backed by Pakistan) but later to include Mazari's Wahdat (backed by Iran) and Dostum's Junbish (backed by Uzbekistan).

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.[12] Many government forces, including generals, joined Jamiat,[12] 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.[13]

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 Shar.[14]

Kabul came completely under the control of the interim government on April 30, 1992, and hopes were rising for a new era. But the situation was far from stabilized. The Hezb-i Islami had been driven out, but they were still within artillery range, and soon started firing tens of thousands of rockets into the city. Fighting between Hezb-i 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 position of prime minister, however, this lasted less than a week after Hekmatyar had attempted to shoot down the plane of President Mujaddidi.[15] Furthermore as part of the peace talks Hekmatyar was demanding the departure of Dostum's forces, which would have titled the scales.[15]

On 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.[12]


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

Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani, President of the Islamic State of Afghanistan from 1992 to 1996, was assassinated by a Taliban member in September 2011.

From the onset of the battle, 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. 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.[13][16] 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.[17]

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.[18] 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.[19] 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.[17] By August 20 it was reported that 500, 000 people had fled Kabul.[20] 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.[21]

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.[22] 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.[23]

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.[24]

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.


January–February 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.[25] 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.[26] 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.[27] 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.[28]


See the main article for more information:

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.


January–June 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.[16] 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.[29] Some commanders such as Shir Arab, commander of the 51st regiment,[30] Kasim Jangal Bagh, Ismail Diwaneh ["Ismail the Mad"], and Abdul Cherikwere[31] 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.[32]

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.

July–December 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 attracted the support of Pakistan 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. 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.[33]

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 1st UN peace envoy Mahmoud Mistiri returns to Kabul.[34] 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.[35] Between 22nd of January and 31st of 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 5th. Rabbani furhter delays his resignation on the 22nd, stating he will resign on the 21st.[36] 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.[37]

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.[38]In March, Massoud launched an offensive against Hizb-e Wahdat trapping Wahdat forces in Karte Seh and Kote Sangi. On March 8th, 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.[39] The Taliban retreated under the bombardment, taking Mazari with them and throwing him from a, helicopter on 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.[40] Estimates of civilian casualties from this period of fighting are 100 killed and 1000 wounded.[41]

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.[42]

On 4 April, the Taliban killed about 800 government soldiers and captured 300 more in Farah Province, but are later forced to retreat.[43] In early May, Rabbani's forces attack the Taliban in Maidan Shar[44]. 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.[45] Between 14 and 16 May, Helmand and Nimruz fall to Rabbani and Khan's forces. On May 20th, Wahdat forces captured Bamiyan. On June 5th, 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.[46] On 20 June, the government recaptured Bamiyan. On 23rd 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 28th of August, but were unable to hold Girishk. In September, Dostum forces captured Badghis. The Taliban were able to capture Farah on the 2nd of September, and Shindand on the 3rd. On 5 September, Herat falled, 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.[47] 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.[48] 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.[48] 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.[40]


On 2–3 January, Taliban rocket attacks killed 20 to 24 people and wound another 43–56.[49] 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.[50] On 6 February, the road is used to bring in more food. On 26th of 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.[51]

In 1996, the Taliban returned to seize Kabul, this time with not only the help of Pakistan but also of 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 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.[52] 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.[53]

On 8 August government forces captured Chaghcharan, but lost it again. On 11 Septepmber, Jalalabad fell to the Taliban, who then marched on Sarobi. On 12 September, the Taliban captured Mihtarlam in Laghman province. On 22nd September, Kunar province fell to the Taliban, and so did Sarobi, on the 26th, with 50 killed and large quantities of ammunition captured.[54] On 26th 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.[55] During 21–30 October, Massoud's forces stalled on the way to the capital. On 25th 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.


  1. ^ Neamatollah Nojumi. The Rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan: Mass Mobilization, Civil War and the Future of the Region (2002 1st ed.). Palgrave New York. pp. 260. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Blood-Stained Hands, Past Atrocities in Kabul and Afghanistan's Legacy of Impunity". Human Rights Watch. 
  3. ^ "The September 11th Sourcebooks Volume VII: The Taliban File". 2003. 
  4. ^ "We believe in truth.". policypage/NMNG. 2008. 
  5. ^ a b c Amin Saikal. Modern Afghanistan: A History of Struggle and Survival (2006 1st ed.). I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd., London New York. pp. 352. ISBN 1-85043-437-9. 
  6. ^ Corwin, Phillip. "Doomed in Afghanistan: A U.N. Officer's memoir of the Fall of Kabul and Najibullah's Failed Escape." 1992. Rutgers University Press. (31 January 2003), 70
  7. ^ Doomed in Afghanistan, 71
  8. ^ a b The Fall of Kabul, April 1992. Library of Congress country studies. Retrieved on 2007-07-26.
  9. ^ "Massoud's conversation with Hekmatyar". Jawedan. 1992. 
  10. ^ Urban, Mark (1992-04-28). "Afghanistan: power struggle". PBS. Retrieved 2007-07-27. 
  11. ^ De Ponfilly, p.405
  12. ^ a b c Afghanistan Justice Project. "Casting Shadows: War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity, 1978-2001." 2005. Accessed at: [Accessed on 10 November 2009], pg 65.
  13. ^ a b Human Rights Watch. "Blood Stained Hands: Past atrocities in Kabul and Afghanistan's Legacy of Impunity." 2005. Accessed at: [Accessed on 22 November 2009]
  14. ^ Afghanistan Justice Project. "Casting Shadows: War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity, 1978-2001." 2005. Accessed at: [Accessed on 22 November 2009], pg 66
  15. ^ a b Human Rights Watch. "Blood Stained Hands: Past atrocities in Kabul and Afghanistan's Legacy of Impunity." 2005. Accessed at: [Accessed on 22 November 2009], 22
  16. ^ a b Afghanistan Justice Project. "Casting Shadows: War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity, 1978-2001." 2005. Accessed at [Accessed on 10 November 2009]
  17. ^ a b Jamilurrahman, Kamgar. "Havadess-e Tarikhi-e Afghanistan 1990-1997. Peshawar: Markaz-e Nashrati (Meyvand, 2000) pp. 66–68 translation by Human Rights Watch.
  18. ^ Mohammaed Nabi Azimi, "Ordu va Siyasat." p 606.
  19. ^ Sharon Herbaugh, "Pro-Government militias intervene as fighting continues in Kabul," Associated Press, June 5th, 1992.
  20. ^ Philip Bruno, "La seconde bataille de Kaboul 'le gouvernment ne contrôle plus rien," Le Monde, August 20th, 1992.
  21. ^ Human Rights Watch. "Blood Stained Hands."
  22. ^ Afghanistan Justice Project, 71
  23. ^ Afghanistan Justice Project, 76
  24. ^ Afghanistan Justice Project. "Casting Shadows: War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity, 1978-2001." 2005. Accessed at: [Accessed on 10 November 2009] , 67
  25. ^ Afghanistan Justice Project, 67
  26. ^ Afghanistan Justice Project, 77
  27. ^ Afghanistan Justice Project, 78
  28. ^ Afghanistan Justice Project, 79
  29. ^ Afghanistan Justice Project, 105
  30. ^ Afghanistan Justice Project
  31. ^ Human Right's Watch
  32. ^ Library of Congress Counry Studies. "The Struggle for Kabul."
  33. ^ Amnesty International. "DOCUMENT - WOMEN IN AFGHANISTAN: A HUMAN RIGHTS CATASTROPHE." 1994 Accessed at:
  34. ^ Research Directorate Documentation, information and Research Branch, Immigration and Refugee Board, "Quesiton and Answer Series: Afghanistna: Chronology of Events January 1995-February 1997," Ottawa.
  35. ^ IRB, 1997
  36. ^ IRB Canada, 1997
  37. ^ IRB Canada, 1997
  38. ^ IRB Canada, 1997
  39. ^ Afghanistan Justice Project, 63
  40. ^ a b U.S. Department of State. "Afghanistan Human Rights Practices, 1995." March 1996. Accessed at:
  41. ^ IRB Canada, 1997
  42. ^ IRB Canada, 1997
  43. ^ IRB Canada, 1997
  44. ^ IRB Canada, 1997
  45. ^ IRB Canada, 1997
  46. ^ IRB Canada, 1997
  47. ^ IRB Canada, 1997
  49. ^ IRB Canada, 1997
  50. ^ IRB Canada, 1997
  51. ^ IRB Canada, 1997
  52. ^ IRB Canada, 1997
  53. ^ IRB Canada, 1997
  54. ^ IRB Canada, 1997
  55. ^ IRB Canada, 1997
  56. ^ IRB Canada, 1997

External links

Afghanistan - the Squandered Victory (documentary film) by the BBC

(documentary film directly from the year 1989 explaining the beginning of the turmoil to follow)

Massoud's Conversation with Hekmatyar (original document from 1992)
Commander Massoud's Struggle (documentary film) 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)

Starving to Death Afghanistan (documentary report) by Journeyman Pictures/ABC Australia

(from March 1996)

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