Striking new photos show Taliban fighters and former Afghan Army soldiers who once fought against each other now being treated for war wounds side-by-side at the same rehab center in Kabul.
Taliban fighter Abdul Qayum of the Helmand province is shown learning to walk with a prosthetic leg at the Red Cross Hospital — next to Khair Mohammad, a former soldier from the Afghan Army who lost both of his lower limbs in a mine blast, according to Reuters.
Nearby, former Taliban fighter Mohammad Ishaq, who also lost his left leg to a bullet wound in combat, underwent physical therapy alongside one of the soldiers he defeated.
“For years we fought against the infidels and we defeated them and I was injured,” said Ishaq.
At the clinic — one of the few that supplies prosthetic limbs in the area — an instructor helped Ishaq get an artificial leg fitted to replace the one he lost.
He then practiced walking across a long exercise hall as medical staff and patients from both sides of the war watched.
“They help all people in need; whatever the people need they provide,” Ishaq said of the hospital.
Ishaq spent eight years fighting in Helmand, where thousands of civilians and soldiers were killed and injured before the Taliban seized Kabul during the US troop withdrawal in August.
Previously, war-wounded members of the Taliban came to the center largely in secret, said Alberto Cairo, an Italian physiotherapist who leads the orthopedic program for the International Committee of the Red Cross.
“There were Taliban coming here, but very few and secretly. Now they come very openly, so we have many, every day 10-15, they come for different reasons,” he said. “We help them like we help everybody.”
Mohammad Tawfiq, a former Afghan Army soldier from Panjshir province, was also treated at the center after a Taliban ambush left him paralyzed from the waist down.
“The fight is over for me, my fight is over,” he said. “I want to live in a peaceful environment. I can talk to anyone now.”