Fighters in Humvees and armored SUVs waved Taliban white flags at the military parade, where several vehicles appeared to be in perfect condition. The Taliban also organized an aerial demonstration with a recently confiscated Black Hawk helicopter flying past roadside militants, while also carrying a white Taliban flag.
The parade took place on the day video footage showed terrorists making their way through an abandoned hangar at Kabul airport, which is strewn with equipment discarded by the US.
In one video, militants dressed in US-style uniforms and holding US-made weapons examine a CH-46C Knight helicopter parked inside a hangar. Taliban fighters were also seen posing for photographs sitting in the cockpits of planes and helicopters that once belonged to the Afghan Air Force.
But Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told CNN on Tuesday that he was not “overly concerned about these images” of Taliban fighters investigating abandoned planes.
“They can observe everyone they want,” Kirby said. “They can see them, they can move around – but they can’t blow them up. They can’t operate them.”
He said the US military had rendered “all the gear at the airport – all the planes, all the ground vehicles” unusable, with only a few fire trucks and fork lifts operational.
Efforts to reopen Kabul airport resumed on Wednesday as a team of Qatari technical experts arrived in the Afghan capital, a source with knowledge of the situation told CNN.
The source said the technical team traveled to Kabul on a Qatari jet at the request of the Taliban, and although no final agreement has yet been reached, “negotiations are still on at the level of security and operations.”
“It aims to resume flights in and out of Kabul for humanitarian aid and freedom of movement in a safe and secure manner.”
Afghanistan is heavily dependent on foreign aid, and the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) are already struggling to get vital food and medical supplies to the airport amid a massive evacuation operation.
The resumption of commercial flights will also be important for those who still want to leave the country but who haven’t made it on military evacuation planes.
US Central Command General Frank McKenzie said on Monday that more than 123,000 people have been evacuated by US and coalition aircraft since August 14.
The Taliban have pledged a more restrained regime this time, saying they will still allow foreign nationals and Afghans with proper documentation to leave the country after August 31. But many Afghans doubt their claims, and heavy question marks hang over the Taliban. ability to run the country.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, standing on the runway of Kabul airport, told a small crowd on Tuesday, “This victory belongs to all of us.”
He joined heavily armed fighters of the Taliban’s Badri 313 Special Forces Brigade, who were out in camouflage uniforms and desert boots.
The Mujahid congratulated the Taliban fighters standing in line and indeed “the whole country”.
Only one Afghan region still stands against Taliban rule: the Panjshir Valley – a strategic piece of territory about 90 miles north of Kabul that was once a stronghold of the Soviet-fighting Mujahideen and is now the seat of the resistance movement.
Ali Nazari, a spokesman for Afghanistan’s anti-Taliban National Resistance Front (NRF), said on Wednesday that NRF forces attempted to fight Taliban attackers on their way into Panjshir through the Gulbahar area, damaging the terrorist group’s weaponry and sending them away. But suffered heavy casualties. move back
“Negotiations have stopped, they have reached an impasse,” Nazzari said. “They tried to attack from two directions, one in the north and one in the south.”
It was not possible for CNN to independently verify the intensity of the fighting or the total number of casualties on both sides. Emergency Hospital, a surgical center for war victims in Kabul, said on Twitter that it had five wounded patients and four dead when it arrived after fighting in Gulbahar.
The Taliban’s top leadership has not acknowledged the heavy fighting in the region. In an audio message released on Wednesday, Amir Khan Muttaki, the Taliban leader, called on the Panjshiris to accept an apology and avoid fighting, but acknowledged that talks have so far yielded no results.
Correction: A previous version of this story included a card image of Kandahar not Kabul. It has been decided.