07 Oct 2014 09:11
Fausto Biloslavo follows the soldiers of the Afghan Army during an operation against the Taliban who are surrounding all the areas close to Herat. He travels with the soldiers through the wild Afghan landscape and listens to the stories of the soldiers who are paid 200 euros for risking their lives against the Taliban. And as soon as the Nato mandate will end by the end of 2014, it would get even worse for the Afghan people.
Text and Photos by: Fausto Biloslavo
"The policemen were ambushed. One agent was killed instantly, but the other five were alive, although injured," says the soldier Maitullah Wafa, back from a violent battle.
After placing the last belt of ammunitions, the young Afghan adds, "The Taliban have reached them while they were fizzling on the ground. They were shot to death one by one with a Kalashnikov.”
The forgotten war in Afghanistan continues with no mercy, but NATO troops are ready to leave the country by the end of 2014.
Now the army of Kabul has to repel the assault of the Taliban by itself, with no help from foreign armies. Since January 2014 there have been 422 attacks in western Afghanistan, especially booby trap attacks. Throughout the country, every month the Afghan army loses from 200 to 400 men.
The reconnaissance operation starts in the territory of Herat, from the base of the 207th Corps at Camp Zafar - which means"victory". At five in the morning, before dawn, the officials pray toward Mecca and they are illuminated by the lights of the armored jeeps left in dowry by the Americans.
The column of soldiers moves along a sandy track and goes through a valley surrounded by barren mountains where there are houses made from mud and straw. In addition to the tanks, with no anti-mine system, the Afghans travel on uncovered vehicles. If they bump on a booby trap they would explode ending in a thousand pieces like twigs.
The mountains on the other side of the river are Taliban-infested. A week ago the Talibans attacked the army along the road that leads to the great dam of Selma. "On the armor of the tank I felt the bullets bouncing. The rockets were exploding everywhere. A few meters away, I saw a Dushman (which means enemy), who had launched a rocket bursting in three steps from us. I took the grenade launcher firing at him and I saw him fall, "says Maitullah, a young soldier, with a bit of pride.
When the column of soldiers passes through their villages, the people remain composed. Women covered by turquoise burqas look like ghosts, some children wave to the soldiers while the shepherds look after their sheep.
To prevent any suicide bombing, the soldiers check all the cars and passengers, even the turbans of the men, which could hide a detonator.
The Afghan army is made up of almost 200,000 men. The base pay of an Afghan soldier is 11,500 afghani, less than 200 euro per month: this is all they are given for risking their lives every day.
The commander of the corps army built with the help of Italians, general Taji Mohammed Jahed, is convinced that "there is no difference between Daish (the Islamic state in Arabic) and the Talibans. Both distort Islam to use it against humanity. The first one kills in the name of the caliphate while the Talibans kill in the name of their emirate. "