Afghanistan: Taliban appear to interact with seized US guns
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The US military had been forced to abandon several helicopters and heavy-duty vehicles following Joe Biden’s decision to press ahead with the withdrawal of troops after 20 years of fighting. Jim Banks, a US Republican Congressman who served in Afghanistan, had said the terror group “now has access to $85billion [£62billion] worth of military equipment”, including Black Hawk helicopters.
Marine general Frank McKenzie, the head of US military’s Central Command, has since confirmed US troops disabled 27 Humvees and 73 aircraft prior to leaving the region.
Up to 48 aircraft are understood to remain in Afghanistan, but it is unknown how many are still operational.
The Taliban had “expected the Americans to leave helicopters like this in one piece for their use”, according to one Al Jazeera reporter who was on the ground at Kabul airport.
She said: “When I said to them, ‘why do you think that the Americans would have left everything operational for you?’
“They said because we believe it is a national asset and we are the government now and this could have come to great use for us.”
She added: “They are disappointed, they are angry, they feel betrayed because all of this equipment is broken beyond repair.”
US military personnel removed propellers and guns from some of the most dangerous planes and helicopters.
Other aircraft were left abandoned on the tarmac without their fuselage or any wheels attached.
Most of the flying equipment was built in the 1980s and requires constant maintenance in order for it to take to the skies.
The US military also re-routed a large fleet of aircraft to a base in Uzbekistan.
More than 40 aircraft, including 24 helicopters, were taken out of the country before Kabul fell to the terror group.
The US military ended its evacuation mission from Afghanistan on August 31 after rescuing more than 120,000 people, including 5,500 Americans.
Taliban fighters have since posed with US-made weapons, including M16 assault rifles and helicopters around the Kabul airport.
Tactical equipment such as night-vision goggle mounts, plate carriers and camouflage uniforms have also fallen into the hands of the Taliban.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby has since played down any concerns.
On Monday, he told CNN: “They can inspect all they want.
“They can look at them. They can walk around. They can’t fly. They can’t operate them.”
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The Afghan Air Force had been operating with 108 helicopters and 59 planes, according to an official US government inspection in June.
Between 2003 and 2016, the US delivered 358,530 rifles, more than 64,000 machine guns, 25,327 grenade launchers and 22,174 Humvees to the Afghan army, according to the US Government Accountability Report.
After NATO forces ended their combat role in 2014, the Afghan army was tasked with securing the country and received further equipment from the US.
In 2017, nearly 20,000 M16 rifles were supplied
Up until 2021, the US contributed at least 3,598 M4 rifles and 3,012 Humvees among other equipment to Afghan security forces according to a report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.
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