Taliban releases Jihadi training footage on state broadcaster
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British and US military personnel led the mass evacuation of more than 120,000 vulnerable people from Afghanistan up to the August 31 deadline as troops finally left the region after 20 years. The sudden withdrawal orchestrated by US President Joe Biden has been condemned by many, with hundreds of American citizens left stranded.
Jim Banks, a US Republican Congressman who served in Afghanistan, said the terror group “now has access to $85billion [£62billion] worth of military equipment”, including Black Hawk helicopters.
And now it is feared British weapons could also be in the hands of the terror group.
The Ministry of Defence sent more than £150million worth of military equipment to Afghanistan since 2008.
Records show forces in Afghanistan received £72million worth of explosives, £24million worth of armored vehicles, guns worth £4.4million, £2.8million pounds of ammunition and aircraft, helicopters and drones valued at £2.3million.
Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey said: “There is a clear risk of high-tech equipment falling into the hands of the Taliban, or worse, ISIS-K and other terror groups.”
The Labour MP acknowledged the terror groups may not have the skills to function most of the equipment, but warned they could be sold to fund further operations.
He added: “While they may not have the technical skills to operate many of these weapons systems, the black market value could be a significant source of income to fuel their operations.
“Preventing illegal arms sales must therefore be a key component of an internationally coordinated counterterrorism strategy in Afghanistan.”
A leading campaign group against the sale of arms has attacked the UK Government’s strategy to equip Afghan soldiers with so many weapons given the unrest in the region.
Katie Fallon, the parliamentary coordinator of the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, said: “Either the Government is incapable of applying their own regulations and accurately evaluating risk, or the criteria as written do not allow for even the most modest consideration of the long-term consequences of exporting weapons to a deeply unstable country.”
A UK Government spokesman has said export arms licences have been removed from individuals in Afghanistan and insisted Britain “operates one of the most robust and transparent export regimes in the world”.
He said: “The Department for International Trade has revoked all relevant individual export licenses that were previously issued and has updated the relevant open general licenses to remove Afghanistan as a permitted destination.
“The UK takes its export control responsibilities very seriously and operates one of the most robust and transparent export regimes in the world.
“We continue to monitor the situation closely and keep our licenses under constant review.”
The Ministry of Defence said equipment was recovered during the evacuation mission.
A spokesperson said: “As part of our withdrawal we have been recovering equipment but at all times have prioritised the safe evacuation of people over equipment.
“The Ministry of Defence did not leave any weapons, ammunition or sensitive IT in Kabul following [the evacuation operation].”
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Marine general Frank McKenzie, the head of US military’s Central Command, said 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, others were flown to military bases in Uzbekistan.
US military personnel also removed propellers and guns from some of the most dangerous planes and helicopters abandoned in Afghanistan.
Other aircraft were left on the Tarmac without their fuselage or any wheels attached.
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