Inside the Battle at Qala-I-Jangi

From a ruined 19th century fortress, TIME correspondent Alex Perry records the crushing of a Taliban revolt

OLEG NIKISHIN/GETTY IMAGES FOR TIME

In Afghanistan, nothing is ever what it seems. Including surrender.

On Nov. 24, a bright, warm Saturday, 300 Taliban soldiers who had fled the American bombardment of Kunduz, their last stronghold in the north of Afghanistan, laid down their weapons in the desert a few miles to the north of Mazar-i-Sharif. They surrendered to Northern Alliance General Abdul Rashid Dostum, who crowed that his forces had achieved a "great victory" as the pows were herded 50 at a time onto flatbed trucks.

Even by the standards of Afghanistan's warlords, Dostum has an unsavory reputation. In...

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