In Pictures: Taliban fighters occupy urban checkpoints in Afghanistan | News

Since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan more than three and a half months ago amid the chaotic withdrawal of US-led foreign forces, its operatives have switched roles from fighting in the mountains and the fields to become an armed force ruling the country.

Many Taliban infantrymen now have new jobs: keeping checkpoints in the streets and carrying out security patrols in and around Afghan towns and villages.

Last month, several Taliban fighters posed for photo portraits for the Associated Press news agency during night patrols and at checkpoints in the western town of Herat.

One of them, Ahmad Wali, 21, was patrolling the village of Kamar Kalagh, north of Herat. A student at an Islamic religious school known as “madrassa”, he said he joined the Taliban because he was against the US presence in his country and against the previous Afghan government, widely criticized for corruption.

Now, he said, he is very busy with his new responsibilities to provide security in the area where he has been posted. He hopes he and his country have a bright future, and said he is “99% sure” that better days will come for all Afghans.

After the Taliban took power in mid-August, the already dilapidated and aid-dependent Afghan economy turned into a widespread crisis. The international community withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in funding upon which the country of 38 million people depended. Billions of dollars in Afghan assets abroad have been frozen.

The Afghan banking system has been largely cut off from the world and the new Taliban leadership has largely been unable to pay wages, while jobs across the economy have disappeared.

Women have mostly been excluded from the labor market, except in certain occupations, and from secondary education, while tens of thousands of people, including highly skilled professionals, have fled or are attempting to flee Afghanistan , resulting in a massive brain drain.

Here are some portraits of Taliban fighters who posed for photos at various checkpoints in the western city of Herat, the third largest in Afghanistan.

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