After fierce battle to hold Dawlat Abad in Faryab province on Afghanistan’s Turkmenistan border on July 16, Special Forces commandos ran out of munitions, surrendered and were executed by gunfire by Taliban militants, witnesses tell CNN.

In this March 18, 2014 file photo, people stand near debris at the site of a suicide blast in Faryab, northern Afghanistan.
In this March 18, 2014 file photo, people stand near debris at the site of a suicide blast in Faryab, northern Afghanistan. (Reuters)

Taliban fighters have executed 22 Afghan commandos in the town of Dawlat Abad in Faryab province as they surrendered after some clashes,  a CNN investigation revealed.

The incident took place on June 16 in Faryab, a region close to Afghanistan's border with Turkmenistan, several videos confirmed by the investigation showed. 

The victims were members of an Afghan Special Forces unit. After a fierce battle to hold the town, the commandos had run out of ammunition and were surrounded by the Taliban fighters, witnesses said.

In one video, Taliban fighters said, "Surrender, commandos, surrender," and several men emerged from a building, who were clearly unarmed.

Another 45-second-long video shows a bystander who can be heard saying in the local Pashto language, "Don't shoot them, don't shoot them, I beg you don't shoot them." 

The bystander then asked, "How are you Pashtun killing Afghans?" The Pashtuns are the main ethnic group in Afghanistan.

Videos show the commandos' bodies scattered across an outdoor market.

READ MORE: Kabul scrambles as Taliban seizes Turkmenistan, Iran border crossings

'They shot them all'

The Red Cross officials confirmed the bodies of 22 commandos were retrieved.

The killings stand in stark contrast to the Taliban's efforts to show it is accepting the surrender of soldiers and, in some instances, paying them to go home as it makes territorial gains across Afghanistan following foreign troop withdrawals from the country.

Taliban officials said the videos showing the commandos being executed were fake and government propaganda to encourage people not to surrender. 

A spokesperson for the group claimed that they were still holding the 24 commandos who had been captured in Faryab province, without providing evidence.

Afghan authorities denied the statement, saying the commandos were killed.

Witnesses interviewed by CNN in Dawlat Abad said the commandos were shot in cold blood.

One resident said the commandos arrived in the town with several tanks but ran out of ammunition after two hours of fighting and received no support from the air. 

"Then they brought them into the middle of the street and shot them all," the witness told CNN.

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'Killing of brothers'

A second witness, who is a shopkeeper in the bazaar where the shooting took place, said the commandos "were not fighting." 

"They all put their hands up and surrendered, and (the Taliban) were just shooting," he said.

Taliban advances have driven thousands of civilians from their homes after US President Joe Biden's announcement that all US troops will be withdrawn from the country by September 11.

Since then, the group claimed to have taken control of nearly 200 districts across the country, mostly in the northern areas.

One witness to the shooting said the Taliban said that if foreigners left Afghanistan they would make peace. 

"How long will they continue this killing of brothers in the country?" he asked.

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Source: TRT World