In 2001 the journey to the front lines between the waring Taliban and the Northern Alliance begins in Northern Afghanistan through the mountainous Panjshir Valley and up to the infamous 15,000 foot Anjuman pass, where heavy snowstorms forced us to make the dangerous trek over it by horseback. Ultimately, we arrived ourside of Kabul to soon follow the Northern Alliance's assult into the city and witness their quick defeat of the Taliban.
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Traveling on treacherous roads thousands of feet up we approach the infamous Anjuman pass.
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A snow storm forces us to seek shelter overnight in a one-room mud hut with two dozen stranded locals.
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The heavy snow makes it impossible to cross the pass by car. Our driver (right) and an Afghan gem trader (center) negotiate with Anjuman horseman to take us on an eight-hour journey across the pass by horseback to a village where we could then rent a car and complete our journey.
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The morning sunlight reveals a calm day as we start out on horses we bargained for $60 each.
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We climb higher and higher. The sky becomes overcast and the winds begin to whip the snow around us masking our surroundings.
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Fifteen thousand feet up on the Anjuman pass a blizzard engulfs us.
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In the blinding storm our guides try to keep us together.
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By the end of the day my horse has trouble keeping up with the rest of the group.
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Our horses drift further and further apart. We have been traveling for over ten hours. By nightfall we are following a small icy path on a cliff. Strong winds hurl sheets of jagged ice into our frozen faces. I'm suffering the effects of hypothermia, constantly pressing my shivering legs against my horse in an effort to stay on, and fearing that one slip would send me tumbling at least a thousand feet into the faint moonlit abyss below. We should have reached our destination, a mud hut, long ago, but it is nowhere in sight. I can only try to stay on my horse and pray that somehow I would get out of this alive.
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The next morning we rent a car from the local village and continued our journey through the Panjur valley.
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After arriving to the village of Jabal Saraj just forty miles outside of Kabul, we watch the Northern Alliance troops prepare for their assault against the Taliban.
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In the distance U.S. jets bomb Taliban positions as the Northern Alliance make final preparations for their assault.
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Tank shells pepper Taliban positions outside of Kabul. Soon sniper bullets shatter the sand around us, sending us jumping behind a truck for protection.
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Northern Alliance soldiers wait for the signal to join the fight.
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An enormous explosion happens nearby, knocking me against a wall. Out from the haze come wounded soldiers who were riding on top of an outgoing tank when it hit a land mine.
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Medical equipment is scarce and a wounded soldier, who lost part of his leg, is carried off the battlefield in an old bed.
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Commander Ezmari, left, said the bullets were flying so fast in the fight for Qali Gulay that he thought he would be killed. But when his men helped capture the checkpoint at Qali Gulay, the road to Kabul was wide open.
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After breaking through the front lines, Northern Alliance soldiers have a clear road to Kabul.
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As we arrive in Kabul, a crowd engulfs our car. At first I thought they were going to attack us. Instead they jumped in joy that the Taliban had fled.
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Musab, who said he was from Saudi Arabia, is questioned in a prison cell in Kabul. He was wounded during the U.S. bombing and sent to a hospital in the capital where the Northern Alliance detained him. "I came to Afghanistan to be trained by al Queda to fight in Chechnya, not here," he claimed. In his possession were notes on how to fight and make bombs.
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Crowds mill around the bodies of foreign troops killed by mobs in Kabul after the Taliban fled.
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The day after the defeat of the Taliban, kites, which had been banned for the past seven years under the Taliban, are now flown throughout the city.
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Street after street, neighborhood after neighborhood lie in destruction from the wars that have plagued Kabul since the Soviet invasion in 1979. Families still manage to live in the hollowed remains of many of these former homes.
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A young boy looks skyward while flying his kite. At that moment back in 2001 there is hope for a new future in a country caught in the struggles of the cold war between the former Soviet Union and the U.S. in the early 80s that has had devastating consequences on this country for over twenty years.