AFGHAN women have taken to the streets with machine guns and rocket launchers telling troops that they’re “ready to fight the Taliban”.
It comes as the terror group has unleashed a reign of terror in recent weeks and has seized control of a quarter of Afghanistan.
The people of Afghanistan now face being plunged back under the Taliban’s brutal rule – with strict versions of Islamic law and punishments such as beheading and torture.
But the country’s women are now taking a stand – with hundreds flooding the streets of provinces across the country brandishing guns and chanting anti-jihadi slogans.
Halima Parastish, the head of the women’s directorate in Ghor and one of the marchers told The Guardian: “There were some women who just wanted to inspire security forces, just symbolic, but many more were ready to go to the battlefields.
“That includes myself. I and some other women told the governor around a month ago that we’re ready to go and fight.”
It comes as Taliban forces recently banned women from leaving the house alone and new dowry regulations – an amount of property or money brought by a bride to her husband on their marriage – have been brought in for girls.
And in one area where the terror group has taken control it’s been reported that flyers demanding that women wear burqas have been circulating.
Another woman, in her early 20s, said: “No woman wants to fight, I just want to continue my education and stay far away from the violence but conditions made me and other women stand up.
She added: “I don’t want the country under the control of people who treat women the way they do. We took up the guns to show if we have to fight, we will.”
Taliban forces previously imposed a harsh version of Islamic rule on Afghans before they were ousted after the US-led invasion in 2001.
Girls were barred from school and women were banned from working outside the home or being seen in public with a male relative.
And those who broke the rules faced floggings, beheadings, hangings, and crucifixions.
But the last US forces left Afghanistan’s Bagram airfield on Friday after 20 years in the war-torn region.
And some experts fear the withdrawal of American troops risk leaving behind a nation on the verge of disaster.
20 years in Afghanistan – what happened?
US forces have begun a full withdrawal from Afghanistan under the orders of US President Joe Biden after spending 20 years fighting to stablise the war-torn nation.
Some 456 British soldiers and 2,420 Americans – along with hundreds of other coalition troops – died during the war which was sparked by the September 11 attacks.
And the civilian casualties are estimated to have been almost 50,000.
Codenamed Operation Enduring Freedom, the US led an invasion off Afghanistan to oust the Taliban after al-Qaeda flew planes into the World Trade Centre and other US buildings in 2001.
The mission was to oust the Taliban, who were said to be harbouring terrorists and providing them a safe haven – including Osama bin Laden.
What followed was nearly 20 years of grinding conflict as the US, its allies, and the Afghan security forces staged a grinding campaign to attempt to rebuild the country and beat back the Taliban.
The Taliban had ruled most of Afghanistan following the Afghan Civil War in the 90s – sparked by the withdrawal of the Soviet Union.
Western nations had actually supported the Taliban in the 80s as the ran an insurgency against the Soviet backed regime of Mohammad Najibullah.
However, after seizing power in 1996 – the Taliban brutally ruled Afghanistan and offered a safe haven to terrorist killers like Osama.
As the US war rolled on into the 2010s, Bin Laden was killed in May, 2011, in a US special forces raid in Abbotabad, Pakistan.
And since then there has been a slow withdrawal, with British troops officially ending combat operations in October 2014.
February 2020 saw a peace deal signed between the US and the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, which agreed to a withdrawal – whoever the Afghan government criticised it as being done behind “closed doors”.
Taliban forces have since continued their operations and have been gaining ground – and the US continues to pull back its troops.
The war is seen as defeating the Taliban and improving the lives of the Afghan people who were once living under strict Islamic law and who now have free elections.
However, for some it is unfinished job which was mishandled – and that may 20 years on simply see a return to the dominance of the Taliban as they did pre-9/11.
General Sir Richard Barrons, a former commander joint forces command, told The Times that Afghanistanis at “grave risk of collapse”.
He said: “We might argue that much more money, many more soldiers and a lot more time could have helped Afghanistan settle into a peaceful, modernising state — but that is academic: we are walking away from fighting for it.”
And it is feared the nation could become a new haven for terrorist forces wanting to strike out against the West, with The Sun Online revealing concerns new training camps could be operational by September.
Professor Anthony Glees, from the Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies at the University of Buckingham, said the Taliban are now “back with a vengeance”.
Vile atrocities committed by the Taliban are well documented – in particular by ISIS who may seek to establish vile rule over parts of Afghanistan like they did in Iraq and Syria.
The Taliban said it “welcomes and supports” the decision by the US and NATO to withdraw.