Military Wiki
Fall of Kandahar
Part of the Afghan Civil War, War in Afghanistan
DateNovember 22 – December 7, 2001
LocationKandahar, Afghanistan
Result Coalition victory
Afghanistan Gul Sharzai-led militia
Afghanistan Eastern Alliance
United States
Afghanistan Taliban
Commanders and leaders
Afghanistan Gul Agha Sherzai
Afghanistan Hamid Karzai
United States Tommy Franks
800 Sharzai's militia
800 Eastern Alliance
750 Americans
150 Australians
Casualties and losses
3 Americans killed

The Fall of Kandahar took place in 2001 during the War in Afghanistan. After the fall of Mazar-i-Sharif, Kabul and Herat, Kandahar was the last major city under Taliban control. Kandahar was where the Taliban movement had originated and where its power base was located, so it was assumed that capturing Kandahar would be difficult. The city fell after several weeks of fighting to a force of local militia under Pashtun military commanders and their American advisers. The fall of Kandahar signaled the end of organized Taliban control of Afghanistan.[1]


Anti-Taliban commander Gul Agha Sherzai was contacted by an American special forces A-team on November 18. His forces numbered about 800 men, but were severely outnumbered and under-equipped. After receiving supplies, they moved out on November 22 in a convoy of over 100 vehicles and began advancing on Kandahar through the Arghastan desert. Attempting to bypass Taliban strongholds, Sharzai's convoy halted outside the Taliban-held town of Takht-e-pol. While trying to negotiate a surrender, the convoy was ambushed by Taliban forces. Sharzai's forces drove the Taliban back with the help of American air support. The Taliban retreated and abandoned the Takht-e-pol area.

On November 25, helicopters airlifted 750 U.S. Marines from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit to create a forward base at Camp Rhino 100 miles south of Kandahar. They began clashing with Taliban patrols in the area.[2] These troops served to secure Sharzai's southern flank. On November 27, they were joined by a unit of the Australian Special Air Service and began joint operations against Taliban forces.[3]

Operational Detachment Alpha 574, U.S. Army Special Forces, with Hamid Karzai in Kandahar Province, in October 2001.

After the Battle of Tarin Kowt, the Eastern Alliance under the command of Hamid Karzai spent several weeks in Tarin Kowt attracting recruits. His forces swelled to around 800 men as he prepared to move on Kandahar from the north. On November 30, Karzai's force began advancing towards the town of Petaw. After taking Petaw without a fight, Karzai's force attempted to take the bridge at Sayd Alim Kalay but was halted by stiff Taliban resistance. After a two-day battle involving heavy airstrikes the Taliban withdrew on December 4, leaving the bridge intact. Karzai's force seized a bridgehead on the other side.

The next day, a stray American bomb landed on an American position, killing three Special Forces soldiers and wounding Karzai. Karzai's men maintained their positions and began negotiations with the Taliban for the surrender of Kandahar.

On December 7, Sharzai's men began their assault on Kandahar's airport, but met little resistance. They discovered that the Taliban had already surrendered the city to Karzai's forces. Sharzai's men entered the city and Sharzai was declared governor of Kandahar. Karzai had already been declared president of Afghanistan.[4]


Coordinates: 31°37′N 65°43′E / 31.617°N 65.717°E / 31.617; 65.717

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