Kabul Airport littered with US military vehicles as American equipment in Taliban hands

Kabul airport: US military vehicles 'abandoned' after withdrawal

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France 24 journalist Cyril Payen was one of the few foreign reporters who stayed in Afghanistan following the US withdrawal and was allowed access to film around Kabul Airport. Mr Payen filmed the runways which were littered with helicopters and other military equipment as America abandoned supplies to ensure a speedy evacuation from Afghanistan. It comes as footage and images showed Taliban fighters kitted out with US armour and weapons as billions of dollars worth of equipment was left behind by US forces.

As part of its military mission in Afghanistan, the US provided weaponry and combat vehicles to the Afghan security forces and trained soldiers on how to use them. 

The BBC note between 2003 and 2016, more than 64,000 machine guns, 358,530 rifles and 22,174 Humvees were provided to Afghan security forces according to US Government reports. 

However, as the Taliban began retaking parts of the country large portions of the equipment fell into their hands.

Abandoned military bases were also raided by the Taliban who were able to secure weapons.

Mr Payen spoke to France 24 about the situation at Kabul Airport and pointed to a fleet of helicopters that would now be in Taliban hands.

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He explained: “[Kabul Airport] is totally evacuated by anyone but some dogs actually and the security of the Taliban.

“It’s quite amazing that the American troops could just pull out of the country a few hours ago.

“They have left dozens of vehicles, these choppers were left over and we can see a lot of them where I am standing.”

Mr Payen added the Taliban had moved in and were “checking” to see what was going on in the area. 

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While valuable equipment has been left behind, US forces say they have been “demilitarised” meaning they have been destroyed or rendered unusable. 

Marine Gen Kenneth McKenzie, head of US Central Command, explained 70 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, 27 Humvees, 73 aircraft and a counter rocket system were among the equipment left behind at Kabul. 

However, Gen McKenzie said the aircraft would “never fly again” and said during a Pentagon briefing earlier this week: “They’ll never be able to be operated by anyone.

“Most of them were non-mission capable, to begin with, but certainly they’ll never be able to be flown again.”

Despite this, footage emerged online which showed the hanging of a man by the Taliban who threw him out of a US Black Hawk helicopter. 

Dr Jonathan Schroden, director at the CNA consulting group and US former advisor, told BBC News that without the proper technicians and parts some of the equipment may quickly degrade meaning the Taliban may not get long-term usage out of them.

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Despite this, the Taliban will still be able to make use of low-tech weapons like rifles, armour and other pieces of equipment left behind in Afghanistan which belonged to the US.

The US withdrew all troops on August 31 which was met with celebratory gunfire in Kabul with Taliban supporters shooting their weapons in the air. 

G7 leaders failed to pressure President Joe Biden to push back the August 31 withdrawal date to ensure more people were evacuated from Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urged the Taliban to ensure safe passage for those still wishing the leave the country and threatened to withhold millions of frozen Afghan funds to ensure they follow through.

In the last few days of the evacuation, an ISIS-K terror attack targetted the Baron Hotel which was acting as a processing centre and the airport’s Abbey Gate leaving dozens killed.

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