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Afghanistan's second largest city is Mazar-e-Sharif, capital of Balkh Province. It is in the north of the country, 400 kilometers northwest of Kabul. It is the stronghold of Abdul Rashid Dostum, one of the major political leaders and warlords, an Uzbek, although he shares authority with Mohammed Mohaqaq, a Hazara, and Uftad Ata, a Tajik.

Camp Marmal, in Mazar-e-Sharif, is the headquarters for the NATO International Security Assistance Force Regional Command North (RC North).