The Taliban held a military parade with U.S. weaponry Wednesday to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Taliban members held the celebration at Bagram air base, previously the largest American military base in Afghanistan, and held a parade with what appeared to be abandoned weaponry belonging to the U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Footage and images show their black-and-white flag attached to heavy military tanks and helicopters flying over the base.
The Taliban celebrated the anniversary of complete withdrawal of American forces from AFG in Bagram base today.
At the celebration, #Taliban show of the billions of dollars worth of military equipments, aircrafts and weapons left behind by USA last year.pic.twitter.com/GjzfbeOkLA
— Mohammad Natiq | محمد ناطق (@natiqmalikzada) August 31, 2022
“We are gathered here to celebrate the first anniversary of the withdrawal,” Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, told local outlets at the ceremony, according to The Washington Post. “I am proud that our country was liberated on this day and American troops were forced to leave Afghanistan.” (RELATED: Taliban Takeover Of Critical Areas During Biden Withdrawal Suggests Grim Future For Afghanistan)
U.S. forces departed Afghanistan on Aug. 30, 2021, leading to the Taliban’s immediate takeover of the capital, Kabul. Following the Taliban’s invasion, the Afghan government collapsed once President Ashraf Ghani, Afghan officials and diplomats fled the country. The takeover demolished women’s rights and civil liberties in the country and has sunk deeper into an economic crisis.
The acting prime minister, Mohammad Hassan Akhund, said foreigners took all of their equipment and resources during the withdrawal, The Post reported. A Pentagon report released in April, however, found the U.S. abandoned $7 billion worth of military equipment in Afghanistan, including 78 aircrafts, 9,524 air-to-ground munitions, and more than 40,000 military vehicles.
Hundreds of Taliban fighters sprayed glittery foam and waved flags in the air in central Kabul to celebrate their newly declared “independence day,” The Post reported.
Abdul Hakim Saih joined the celebration with his five grandchildren, The Post continued. He moved to Kabul after the Taliban takeover when his son began a position with the Taliban’s intelligence forces, declaring life has improved since the end of the 20-year war.
“In Logar we were always on the run, moving from place to place to escape night raids and bombings,” he said, according to The Post. “It’s a better life now.”
Several Afghan soldiers and leaders remain in hiding in the country, in fear of being caught by the Taliban, the outlet noted. One Afghan soldier who served as a commando for 10 years described the U.S. withdrawal as an “abandonment” of him and other soldiers.
“Today I feel shattered. We were always assured by the United States that they would stand with us,” he said, according to The Post.
As U.S. troops left Afghanistan, a suicide bombing at the Kabul airport killed thirteen U.S. service members and injured 18 more. Hundreds of Afghans were also killed in the attack. President Joe Biden commemorated the deaths on the one-year anniversary in an Aug. 26 statement, calling it a “heinous terrorist attack.”