Taliban seize over 100 Russia helicopters from routed Afghan army in humiliating setback

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The Jihadists have stunned the world by the speed with which they have managed to retake Afghanistan. The Islamic militants routed the army of ex-President Ashraf Ghani as they swept through the country and into Kabul to reclaim power. The Taliban achieved their historic victory despite facing an opponent boasting up to 300,000 personnel and kitted out with multi-billion-dollar equipment.

With victory comes the spoils of war and the Taliban have augmented their firepower with the capture of Russian made Mi-17 Hip helicopters.

However, the Islamists may not be able to put most of their booty to use, as they lack access to spare parts for the helicopters.

Alexander Mikheev, the head of Rosoboronexporter, told the Interfax news agency: “The helicopter fleet there is large – more than 100 Mi-17 helicopters of various types.

“Of course, this fleet requires repair, maintenance and spare parts supply.”

He went on to suggest a large part of the fleet could already be grounded.

The helicopters were procured for the Afghan army by the Americans, and were preferred to the US made UH-60 Black Hawks, because they were cheaper and easier to fly.

The Mi-17 is the export version of Russia’s Mi-8 helicopter, and is manufactured at two plants in Kazan and Ulan-Ude in Russia.

On Wednesday, the British Foreign Office warned UK nationals trying to flee Afghanistan to avoid travelling to the Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport, due to an “ongoing and high threat of terrorist attack”.

The warning comes as thousands of civilians continue to make their way to the airport in the aftermath of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.

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The UK defence sources had voiced growing concerns about the possibility of a suicide bomb attack targeting the airport.

Intelligence chiefs believed there was a “high risk” that extremists from Isis-K, an Islamic State-affiliated group, were plotting a deadly attack.

As a result, extra security measures were installed around the evacuation processing centre by the airport.

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