Taliban Seize Attack Helicopter From Afghan Government

Taliban Seize Attack Helicopter From Afghan Government
Afghan National Army commando forces walk along a road amid ongoing fighting between Taliban and Afghan security forces in the Enjil district of Herat province, on Aug. 1, 2021. (Hoshang Hashimi/AFP via Getty Images)

Taliban forces seized an Afghan military helicopter after they captured the Shindand Air Base in Herat, northeastern Afghanistan, according to reports.

Video footage of the seizure that has been widely circulating online shows the insurgents milling around an airport hangar that houses helicopters and aircraft spare parts.

Herat, which is Afghanistan’s second-largest city, was mostly seized by Taliban insurgents on Friday. They also succeeded in capturing Ismail Khan, the veteran local commander leading militia resistance there, according to local officials.

Earlier this week, the group was also reportedly seen next to a Mi-35 attack helicopter that was abandoned by government forces at the airport in Herat.

It is unclear if Taliban forces will be able to operate any of the seized military equipment, though one video appears to show the insurgents flying a helicopter that was reportedly captured from Afghan security forces.

The seizure comes as the group took control of Afghanistan’s second and third-largest cities, with fears that an assault on Kabul, the capital of the nation, could be just days away.

After an onslaught lasting a mere two weeks, the Taliban has captured half the country’s provincial capitals and over two-thirds of its territory, a stunning collapse for government forces that Western powers have spent two decades training and equipping.

A Taliban terrorist holds a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) along the roadside in Herat, Afghanistan, on Aug. 13, 2021. (AFP via Getty Images)

While Kabul isn’t directly under threat yet, the resurgent Taliban were battling government forces in Logar province, some 50 miles (80 kilometers) from the capital.

The U.S. military has estimated that Kabul could come under insurgent pressure within 30 days and that the militant group could overrun the rest of the country within a few months.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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