Taliban fighters felt “angry” and “betrayed” after discovering that US troops had disabled dozens of aircraft before completing their withdrawal from the Afghan capital Kabul, the Al Jazeera English reported on September 1.
US troops withdrew from Kabul airport on August 30. Before departing, the troops “demilitarized” 73 aircraft, according to Gen. Frank McKenzie commander of the US Central Command.
Al Jazeera reporter Charlotte Bellis who toured Kabul airport right after the withdrawal revealed that the Taliban had expected the Americans to leave warplanes intact for their use.
“When I said to them, why do you think that the Americans would have left everything operational for you? They said because we believe it is a national asset and we are the government now and this could have come to great use for us,” Bellis said in the report. “They are disappointed, they are angry, they feel betrayed because all of this equipment is broken beyond repair.”
Currently, 48 aircraft of the former Afghan Air Force (AAF) are in the hands of the Taliban. It remains unclear how many of them are actually operational. In the last few weeks, the Taliban was only able to operate few Mi-8/17 and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.
The US provided billions worth of military equipment, including modern counter-insurgency warplanes, for the AAF. Yet, it failed to stop the Taliban. Dozens of US-supplies warplanes ended up in Turkmenistan and Tajikistan.
It remains unclear if the Taliban will be able to maintain and operate what’s left of the AAF. The group will definitely need foreign support to do this. The US may offer the needed support under the pretext of cooperating against ISIS in Afghanistan.
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