Gloating Taliban may have seized half a MILLION US weapons and 50,000 vehicles as fighters show off military booty

GLOATING Taliban fighters may have stolen as many as half a million US weapons and up to 50,000 vehicles as they flaunt their military stash.

They seized hundreds of army bases, weapons dumps and police stations during their advance to Kabul last month.

The US spent an estimated $85billion (£62billion) on weapons and equipment to arm the Afghan army as they propped up the government after toppling the Taliban in 2001.

US documents reveal staggering numbers of guns, vehicles and military gear were handed over to Kabul – only for the Afghan forces to be washed away against the tide of Taliban advance.

Estimates state 22,174 Humvees, 634 M1117s armoured cars, 115 Maxx Pros trucks, and 549,118 machine guns, assault rifles and pistols were given over by the US.

Some 33 Black Hawk helicopters, 23 Super Tucano fighter planes and 4 C-130 transport planes were also given to the Afghan Air Force.

Other support gear was also given over, with some 16,035 pairs of night vision googles, 162,043 radios and some 8,000 trucks.

Much of this equipment may have been removed by the US, may have been out of service, and may have been destroyed.

For example its estimated only 48 of the over 100 aircraft in the air force that were usable were left behind to the Taliban.

But the numbers offers an insight into the staggering scale of Afghanistan's arsenal – the remnants of which will be picked clean by the militants.

Pictures and video from throughout their vicious advance across the country show the fighters gleefully stumbling upon weapons caches and vehicles which they can then use.

Propaganda photos released by the Taliban already show them posing in US military gear – abandoning their simple robes and AK-47s in favour of M-16s and combat body armour.

In one video clip, a fighter cannot believe his eyes when he enters a shipping container full of M16 assault rifles and pump-action shotguns.

The US said it destroyed 73 aircraft, 70 mine-resistant armoured vehicles, 27 Humvees and a C-RAM missile defence system before they left Kabul airport on Sunday.

One helicopter displaying a Taliban flag was seen hovering over crowds at Kandahar yesterday.

Some estimates of the amount of military equipment in the hands of the Taliban put it as around £13billion – but figures remain unclear.

It is believed the Taliban may now be better armed than some nations.

US commanders removed planes, heavy armour and high tech equipment – but untold numbers of other gear which had been given to the Afghan army was left behind.

And it is feared some of the weapons could fall into the hands of splinter terrorist groups – such as ISIS – or even Russia and China.

Elias Yousif, deputy director of the Center for International Policy’s Security Assistance Monitor, told The Hill: "When an armed group gets their hands on American-made weaponry, it's sort of a status symbol. It's a psychological win.

"Clearly, this is an indictment of the U.S. security cooperation enterprise broadly.

"It really should raise a lot of concerns about what is the wider enterprise that is going on every single day, whether that's in the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia."

US and other Western forces have now officially withdrawn from the country after a muddled exit which was compared to the end of the Vietnam War.

However, resistance fighters are continuing the gather in the Panjshir Valley as they continue to deny the Taliban's rule.

US President Joe Biden is facing heavy criticism over the pullout which is believed to leave millions of Afghans to their fate at their hands of the ruthless new regime.

When the Taliban last ruled Afghanistan they imposed medieval-style laws with vicious executions, torture and brutal punishments.

And women are believed to face the brunt of this new regime, with them already being erased from much of public life by the Taliban.

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab today said that Britain will not be recognising the Taliban as Afghanistan's government "for the foreseeable future".

He said the Western world needed to "adjust to the new reality" that the brutal insurgents have captured the country and are now in charge.

The Cabinet Minister told reporters: "We will not be recognising the Taliban anytime in the foreseeable future.

"But I think there is an important scope for engagement and dialogue."

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