Afghanistan video: key scenes from the Taliban's early victory

The Taliban seized power in Afghanistan on Sunday after a rapid advance across the country, crushing government forces and causing panic...

The Taliban seized power in Afghanistan on Sunday after a rapid advance across the country, crushing government forces and causing panic among large swathes of the population.

As of Monday, thousands of Afghans from Kabul, the capital, fled to the main airport. US troops struggled to secure the airport for their own evacuation flights while blocking scores of Afghan civilians who flooded the tarmac in hopes of escaping.

Much of what we know of how the past few days have unfolded comes from images posted on social media by Afghan civilians, Taliban insurgents, entrepreneurs and journalists.

The Times reviewed and verified dozens of these videos to see what this frantic takeover of the country looked like on the ground. Here is what we found.

In several towns, Afghan security forces waged a fierce struggle to stop the advance of the Taliban, with videos showing exchange of gunfire.

But the much more frequent strikes during the Taliban offensive have been the scenes of the apparent retreat of government forces. poorly equipped left secure the country after the US withdrawal.

Neighborhood after neighborhood, videos showed caravans of government military vehicles heading for borders and airports.

In one video, a fleeing Afghan convoy blocked a bridge on the border with Uzbekistan, reminiscent of Soviet soldiers who left the country decades earlier over the same bridge.

Other videos show several Afghan military convoys crossing the border into eastern Iran.

The rapid surrender of the Afghan security forces came despite the United States spending more than $ 83 billion on arms, equipment and training. As districts fell, so did military air bases.

At Herat airport, several videos show that the Taliban managed to seize and use one of the Soviet-era Mi-17 helicopters from the Afghan Air Force. It is not known whether the insurgents knew how to fly the helicopters or relied on pilots who switched sides.

A analysis of social media images, corroborated by The Times, shows that since the start of the Taliban offensive in May, they have captured at least 24 of the approximately 200 Afghan Air Force planes, including helicopters supplied by the United States and a light attack aircraft.

The Taliban is unlikely to be able to operate these planes without their own air force. Most abandoned helicopters are damaged or mechanically unable to fly. Experts say those who require extensive maintenance and qualified pilots.

What may be of greater benefit to the Taliban are the hundreds of Humvees and vans they have captured as well as countless caches of weapons and ammunition. In videos on social media, Taliban insurgents showed off their newly acquired weapons and vehicles.

In the days leading up to the fall of the Afghan capital, the Taliban seized many well-known provincial capitals.

In Herat, Taliban insurgents driving police vehicles they captured surrounded the entrance to the citadel, the historic heart of Afghanistan’s third largest city.

And in Jalalabad – located just east of Kabul along a key route to the capital – a Taliban convoy marched through the city center.

The arrival of the insurgents in Kabul, as elsewhere, apparently took place without a fight.

Videos showed fighters on trucks and motorcycles deploying through the city, sometimes to cheers and applause.

They eventually reached the presidential palace, abandoned by President Ashraf Ghani, who fled earlier today. An Al Jazeera correspondent accompanied fighters into the palace for a rambling live broadcast.

Taliban commanders have said they are now in charge of the security of the capital and do not want any conflict with the United States.

U.S. military transport helicopters spent Sunday plying the skies of Kabul, transporting embassy personnel and other U.S. citizens to Hamid Karzai International Airport, which quickly became the de facto base of operations for many. western governments.

Anthony Mejia, an American helicopter maintenance contractor, filmed his own night evacuation and posted it on Instagram.

US officials said the approximately 4,000 embassy staff arrived at the airport Monday morning in Kabul. But we didn’t know what would happen to the thousands of Afghans who had worked for the US government and were applying for special visas to live in the United States.

At the airport, videos showed Afghans queuing for flights out of the country.

“Every 15 minutes a US plane flies and a second lands,” said a man who was filming a video. “There is chaos as people get on the plane.”

But amid the military evacuations, thousands of Afghan civilians flooded Kabul airport in a desperate effort to flee the country on Sunday and Monday. In several places, gunshots were heard, but it is not known who was responsible.

When the Taliban took over the city, departing commercial flights were delayed or canceled. The few remaining flights faced a deluge of passengers, sparking disputes as people attempted to board.

On Sunday evening, US troops took control of airport security and commercial flights were canceled as military evacuations continued.

The next morning, videos and photographs showed American soldiers barring civilians from entering parts of the airport. Meanwhile, the crowd scaled the walls and swarmed the tarmac in hopes of reaching the departing planes.

In an apparent attempt to clear the runway, two Apache helicopters flew low over hundreds of civilians surrounding a C-17 transport plane – several clinging to its side.

Some seem to have held on as the plane gained altitude. Later video shows two people falling from the plane while it was well above the runway.

Many Afghans in Kabul spent the weekend preparing to live under Taliban control. Some made massive lines to withdraw money from a bank.

Others rushed to buy food and supplies.

Monday morning, members of the Taliban had set up checkpoints around the capital. Much of Kabul was apparently calm, and the Taliban appeared to have exercised control.

Translations by Zia Ur Rehman.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Afghanistan video: key scenes from the Taliban's early victory
Afghanistan video: key scenes from the Taliban's early victory
Newsrust - US Top News
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