Taliban celebrate seizure of US weapons from Afghan troops
By Mark Moore July 6, 2021 Updated !
The Talian have been capturing key districts in the northern part of the war-torn country — including Kandahar and Badakhshan — with little or no resistance from Afghan national forces since the US announced the timetable for the departure in April.
They are extending their control of Afghanistan from their southern strongholds by filling the void left by the departing US forces.
More than a thousand Afghan soldiers fled across the border to Tajikistan after clashing with the Taliban in Badakhshan and surrendered their weapons.
The Taliban are touting the capture of the US weapons as a propaganda ploy in videos released on social media, heralding their return to power after being defeated by American troops in 2001 for harboring al Qaeda and its leader Osama bin Laden and allowing the terror group to plan its 9/11 attack.
The speed of the US pullout is marked by the hasty abandonment of Bagram Airfield — the hub of US military operations during the 20-year war — over the weekend without giving the Afghan government a heads up, a sudden departure that allowed looters to overrun the facility and help themselves to the numerous items left behind by the Americans.
A Taliban commander told Sky News that his fighters had taken a cache of weapons from Afghan security personnel that included 70 sniper rifles, 900 guns, 30 Humvees, 20 pickup trucks and 15 armored vehicles.
The report also said the Taliban had a shipping container full of satellite phones, grenades and mortars, with many having labels saying: “Property of the USA Government.”
Army Gen. Austin Scott Miller, who is overseeing the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, said the Taliban’s advances should be a cause for worry.
“We should be concerned. The loss of terrain and the rapidity of that loss of terrain has — has to be concerning, one, because it’s a — war is physical, but it’s also got a psychological or moral component to it. And hope actually matters. And morale actually matters,” he said in an interview with ABC News’ “This Week” that aired Sunday.
“And so, as you watch the Taliban moving across the country, what you don’t want to have happen is that the people lose hope and they believe they now have a foregone conclusion presented to them,” he said.
Miller said he fears that Afghanistan will fall into civil war once US troops are gone, noting that the Taliban are rapidly taking ground in the north.
“You look at the security situation, it’s not good. The Afghans recognize it’s not good. The Taliban are on the move. We’re starting to create conditions here that won’t look good for Afghanistan in the future if there’s a push for a military takeover,” he said.
Some countries have shuttered their consulates in northern Afghanistan following the Taliban advancement and others have scaled down operations.
Turkey and Russia have closed their consulates in the northern Balkh province and recalled their diplomats.
The consulates of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, India and Pakistan have cut back on their services.
Meanwhile, Tajikistan said it was deploying 20,000 military reservists to bolster its border with Afghanistan, and Russian helicopters based in Tajikistan began conducting training exercises by firing air-to-surface missiles.
But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said while there was “heightened concern” over the fighting between Taliban and Afghan forces, Moscow has no plans yet to send troops to assist Tajikistan, a former Soviet republic.
“We have repeatedly said many times that after the withdrawal of the Americans and their allies from Afghanistan, the development of the situation in this country is a matter of our heightened concern,” he said.
“We’re monitoring it very closely and are noting that destabilization (of the situation) is taking place, unfortunately.”
With Post wires
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