Video appears to show Taliban operating Black Hawk helicopter
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A video circulating on social media appears to show a U.S.-made UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter taxiing at the Kandahar Airport in Afghanistan.
“Reportedly a #Taliban captured #Afghanistan Air Force UH-60 Blackhawk at Kandahar. Important to note it is only shown taxiing not flying,” Joseph Dempsey, a research associate for defense and military analysis at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said on Twitter Wednesday, accompanied by a video.
It is unclear who was operating the helicopter, and the roughly one-minute video did not show the helicopter leaving the ground.
The news comes after Biden administration national security adviser Jake Sullivan said last week that the Taliban had seized a “fair amount” of U.S. weaponry after it took over the country earlier this month.
“We don’t have a complete picture, obviously, of where every article of defense materials has gone,” Sullivan told reporters last Tuesday. “But certainly, a fair amount of it has fallen into the hands of the Taliban, and, obviously, we don’t have a sense that they are going to readily hand it over to us at the airport.”
The U.S. has spent about $83 billion since 2001 on training and equipment for Afghan forces, including $147 million on Black Hawk helicopters and $2 billion on Humvees. Other photos and videos show Taliban soldiers, such as in the little-known Badri 313 Battalion, carrying U.S. and U.S. ally-made weapons and gear that appear to be stolen from allied militaries while patrolling parts of Kabul.
“Everything that hasn’t been destroyed is the Taliban’s now,” a U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told Reuters last week.
The seizure of weapons such as advanced aircraft has been described as a propaganda tool for the Taliban, as insurgents are thought to be unable to operate the aircraft without training.
“When an armed group gets their hands on American-made weaponry, it’s sort of a status symbol. It’s a psychological win,” Elias Yousif, deputy director of the Center for International Policy’s Security Assistance Monitor, recently told The Hill.
President Biden has come under fierce scrutiny for his handling of Afghanistan, including not extending his Aug. 31 withdrawal date from the country.
Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., slammed the administration on Tuesday over the Taliban seizing Black Hawk helicopters and other military equipment, and said, “The Taliban now have more Black Hawk helicopters than 85% of the countries in the world.”
“As a former military sales officer, I acquired American military equipment to equip the Afghans with – you can imagine how shameful I find it that today all of that equipment has fallen into the hands of the Taliban,” Banks, who deployed to Afghanistan in 2014, added.
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