Taliban turn US guns on rebels: Jihadists crush last pockets of resistance with high-tech artillery and mortar attacks in battle for the Panjshir Valley
- Taliban is using US weapons to crush last pockets of resistance in Afghanistan
- The rebels mounted a final defence against the new regime in Panjshir Valley
- But they appeared to be outgunned by Taliban fighters using mortar missiles
- Videos showed the Taliban gunmen brandishing US military M4 and M16 rifles
The Taliban is using advanced weaponry left behind by American troops to crush the last pockets of resistance to its takeover of Afghanistan.
Fighters led by the country’s former vice-president were last night mounting a final defence against the new regime’s forces in Panjshir Valley, the only province that the Islamist group has not captured.
But the rebels appeared outgunned by Taliban fighters using US armoured vehicles, mortar missiles and high-powered artillery.
Videos showed Taliban gunmen brandishing US military M4 and M16 rifles and wearing night-vision goggles.
The Taliban is using weaponry left behind by American troops (pictured: Taliban using US armoured vehicle) to crush the last pockets of resistance to its takeover of Afghanistan
Rebels were mounting a final defence against the Taliban’s forces in Panjshir Valley, the only province that has not been captured. Pictured: Rebels training in Malimah on September 2
But the rebels appeared outgunned by Taliban fighters. Pictured: Afghan resistance movement and anti-Taliban uprising forces personnel stand guard along a road in Rah-e Tang of Panjshir
The military hardware is understood to have been seized from US-trained Afghan government security forces, who fled as the Taliban swept to power.
KABUL AIRPORT BACK IN ACTION
Kabul airport reopened yesterday for domestic flights and will soon resume international services, officials said last night.
Hamid Karzai International Airport closed at midnight on Tuesday as the last American troops flew out after they and British forces conducted one of the largest evacuations in recent decades.
But yesterday, with the help of a technical team from Qatar, the Taliban reopened the airport and two domestic flights took off, to the cities of Mazar-i-Sharif and Kandahar.
The prospect of international flights resuming gives a glimmer of hope to hundreds of British citizens and to Afghan staff who helped the UK and now want to flee the Taliban.
When the Taliban marched into Kabul last month, the airport became the only safe route out of Afghanistan for thousands of British and American citizens and tens of thousands of Afghans who helped Western forces.
More than 6,000 US troops and around 1,000 British soldiers guarded the airport. The Americans evacuated 120,000 people, and UK forces brought out more than 15,000.
During the evacuation, the airport was targeted by an Islamic State suicide attack which killed 169 people, including 13 American soldiers.
In other developments:
- Former Prime Minister Sir John Major said the withdrawal of Western forces from Afghanistan was a ‘strategically very stupid’ decision that he found ‘morally incomprehensible’;
- The head of Pakistan’s ISI intelligence service arrived in the Afghan capital Kabul for talks with Taliban leaders. The group is expected to announce members of its new government within days;
- At least 17 people died when Taliban fighters fired gunshots in the air in Kabul and other major cities following false reports that the battle in Panjshir had been won;
- Taliban forces fired tear gas and beat young women as they staged a protest to demand an equal right to education and jobs.
A convoy of Taliban troops travelling in US armoured vehicles was last night filmed driving towards the area where resistance fighters were holding their ground 70 miles north of Kabul. There were also reports that Taliban forces had entered Panjshir capital Bazarak.
The area holds special significance for opponents to Taliban rule. It was home to Afghan warlord, Ahmad Shah Massoud, who resisted first the Soviet occupying forces in the 1980s and then the Taliban when it last ruled the country between 1996 and 2001.
Shah Massoud was assassinated by Al Qaeda terrorists two days before the 9/11 attacks in 2001.
His son Ahmad leads the new rebel group called the National Resistance Front with Amrullah Saleh, the former vice president of Afghanistan.
The NRF claimed to have killed 600 Taliban fighters in the last 24 hours, but the Taliban claimed it was on the brink of victory with reports suggesting four out of five districts in the province had fallen under Taliban control.
The Taliban is expected to announce in days that its leader Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada will be Supreme Leader of Afghanistan.
Mr Major also criticised the British Government for its ‘shameful’ failure to rescue all the local staff who had worked for it on the ground in Afghanistan.