HERAT -- A veteran Afghan warlord whose militia helped US forces topple the Taliban in 2001 Friday (July 9) vowed to again take up arms as the insurgents closed in on Herat.
"We will soon go to the frontlines and with the help of God change the situation," said Ismail Khan, 75, once a leading member of an alliance of guerrilla fighters who battled the Taliban during the US invasion after the 9/11 attacks.
Khan's comments came as the Taliban claimed they now control vast parts of Afghanistan -- including key border crossings with Iran, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.
Khan hails from Herat city, about 100km from Islam Qala, the main border crossing with Iran that was under Taliban control Friday.
'Resist with courage'
"We demand all the remaining security forces resist with courage."
Hundreds of civilians from across the country have approached him saying they were ready to fight the Taliban, Khan told a news conference.
In recent days, social media networks have been flooded with photographs and videos of prominent Afghans, including lawmakers, taking up arms along with their supporters to fight the insurgents.
Some unconfirmed videos show hundreds of women, also with weapons, vowing to fight.
"We hope that men and women of Herat decide at this moment to support the resistance front to defend their freedom and safeguard their honour," Khan said.
Khan's vast militia had a series of successes against the Taliban when the group first came to power.
He was captured by the Taliban in 1997 when he returned to organise an uprising but escaped from prison in Kandahar two years later and was at large until 2001.
Khan was a minister in former president Hamid Karzai's government.