KABUL: The weeks before the fall of Kabul, which was seized days after Kunduz, are emerging as one of the deadliest periods for Afghan security forces in two decades of war. The Taliban’s complete military takeover of Afghanistan left about 4,000 members of the country’s security forces dead and another 1,000 missing, according to Afghanistan’s former army chief of staff, Gen. Yasin Zia, citing data he collected from former military commanders from July 1 to Aug. 15.
Those numbers, in that time frame, represent a significant increase over the 8,000 Afghan security personnel who were killed on average each year for the past five years, according to Zia and a second former Afghan security official. Some 92,000 members of government security forces were killed since 2001, Zia said, citing official Afghan government records.
The extent of Afghan military casualties was closely guarded until now. The figures provided by Zia offer the first accounting since the Afghan government made casualty data classified in 2017. Zia said he collected the data about the final weeks of battle in an attempt to help the families of the fallen.
Tallying the war dead became increasingly difficult as the Taliban seized territory. Unlike in earlier phases of the conflict, when fallen government forces were gathered at morgues or carried to military hospitals to be counted, systems for reporting the dead disintegrated as the militants closed in on Afghan provincial capitals. In the weeks leading up to the fall of Kabul, local officials ceased recording the number of killed and wounded, according to official Afghan Ministry of Defense documents reviewed by The Washington Post.
The chaos that accompanied the Taliban’s sweep to power in Afghanistan left 1,000 members of the security forces unaccounted for and their families without answers about what happened to their sons, fathers and brothers.
In Kunduz, the bodies of Afghan troops were left along roadsides, outside security compounds and beside checkpoints.
After their takeover, Taliban leadership granted amnesty to all government forces and employees who surrendered. But few trusted the pledge, and many Afghans feared burying a relative who was in the security forces would put the rest of the family in danger. Others simply couldn’t find their loved ones.