Herat ( Persian : Greek: "Alexandria in Ariana") is the third largest city of Afghanistan and the capital of the province also known as Herat . It is situated in the valley of the Hari River , which flows from the mountains of central Afghanistan to the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan . It is the third largest city of Afghanistan, with a population of 397,500. The city is linked with Kandahar , Mazar-e Sharif and Kabul via a circular highway that stretches across the country.
In 1710 the city fell to Mirwais Khan Hotak and was ruled by the Ghilzai Afghans until 1736 when Nader Shah Afsharid swept through with his forces. After Nader Shah's death in 1747, Ahmad Shah Durrani took possession of Herat after almost a year of siege and bloody conflict, and the city became part of the Durrani Empire . In 1824, the city became independent for several years when the Empire was split between the Durranis and the Barakzais . Qajars of Persia tried to take city from Durranis in 1852 and again in 1856; both times the British helped to repel the Persians, the second time through the Anglo-Persian War . The city fell to Dost Mohammad Khan of the Barakzai dynasty in 1863.
Most of the Musallah complex in Herat was cleared in 1885 by the British army to get a good line of sight for their artillery against Russian invaders who never came. This was but one small sidetrack in the Great Game , a century-long conflict between the British Empire and the Russian Empire in 19th century.
During the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan , Herat Airport was used by the Soviet forces. Even before the Soviet invasion at the end of 1979, there was a substantial presence of Soviet advisors in the city with their families. From 10 to 20 March 1979 the army in Herat under the control of Ismail Khan mutinied. Reprisals by the Afghan government followed, and between 3000 and 5000 people were killed. [ 14 ] City itself was recaptured with tanks and airborne forces .
Ismail Khan became the leading Mujahedin commander in Herat. After the departure of the Soviets, he became governor of Herat. In September 1995 the city was captured by the Taliban without much resistance, forcing Ismail Khan to flee. However, after the US invasion of Afghanistan , on November 12, 2001, it was liberated from the Taliban by the Northern Alliance and Ismail Khan returned to power (see Battle of Herat ). In 2004, Mirwais Sadiq , Aviation Minister of Afghanistan and the son of Ismail Khan, was ambushed and killed in Herat by a local rival group. More than 200 people were arrested under suspicion of involvement.
Herat is now fully under the control of Afghanistan's new central government, led by Hamid Karzai , who was initially backed by the United States. The Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police provide security in the city as well as the whole province. There are also presence of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) forces in the area, which is led by Italy and assisting the Military of Afghanistan .
Due to their close connection, Iran began investing in the development of Herat's power, economy and education sectors. As a result, the city now enjoys 24-hour electricity, well-paved roads, and a higher sense of security. Some locals jokingly called Herat the " Dubai of Afghanistan ."