Taliban hold US-made weapons military parade in Kabul

Taliban forces staged a military parade in Kabul on Sunday using captured American-made armored vehicles and Russian helicopters in a display that showed their ongoing transformation from an insurgent force to a regular standing army.

The Taliban operated as insurgent fighters for two decades, but have used the large amount of weapons and equipment left behind when the former Western-backed government collapsed in August to review its forces.

The parade was linked to the graduation of 250 newly trained soldiers, Defense Ministry spokesman Enayatullah Khwarazmi said.

The exercise involved dozens of US-made M117 armored security vehicles slowly driving up and down a major Kabul highway with MI-17 helicopters patrolling overhead. Many soldiers carried US-made M4 assault rifles.

Most of the weapons and equipment the Taliban forces are now using are those supplied by Washington to the US-backed government in Kabul in an attempt to build an Afghan national force capable of fighting the Taliban.

TALIBAN FORCES stand guard a day after the withdrawal of US troops from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, last month. (credit: REUTERS)

Those forces vanished with the flight of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani from Afghanistan, leaving the Taliban in charge of major military assets.

Taliban officials have said that pilots, mechanics and other specialists from the former Afghan National Army will be integrated into a new force, which has also begun to wear conventional military uniforms instead of the traditional Afghan clothing normally worn by its fighters.

According to a report late last year from the Special Inspector General for the Reconstruction of Afghanistan (Sigar), the US government transferred to the Afghan government more than $ 28 billion in defense goods and services, including weapons, ammunition, vehicles, night vision devices, aircraft and surveillance systems, from 2002 to 2017.

Some of the planes were flown to neighboring Central Asian countries fleeing from Afghan forces, but the Taliban have inherited other planes. It is unclear how many are operational.

When US troops left, they destroyed more than 70 aircraft, dozens of armored vehicles and disabled air defenses before flying out of Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport following a chaotic evacuation operation.


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