Captured American Helicopters Fly Overhead as Taliban Parade Celebrates Victory Over NATO

Following the final withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan and the capture of the capital Kabul by the Taliban in late August, the insurgent group launched a large military parade on September 1st celebrating its claimed victory over American and allied NATO forces. 

Held in Kandahar, the parade marked the closing of a conflict which was just a few days short of lasting 20 years, after a U.S.-led Western invasion of the country ousted the Taliban from power in 2001 and transformed the group into an insurgency while a Western-style political system and pro-Western government were installed. 

Kandahar city is the capital of a province with the same dame and represents the birthplace of the Taliban movement which took power in the mid-1990s. 

The overthrow of the country’s communist and Soviet-aligned government by Islamist militants with massive Western and allied material support in 1992 paved the way for the Taliban’s rise to power, and the group is expected to remain the dominant force in Afghan politics indefinitely. 

The parade in Kandahar saw large quantities of American-manufactured hardware, which had been captured from the U.S.-aligned government after its fall, put on display, including various armor fighting vehicles, night vision equipment, and other assets. 

UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters — the primary transport helicopter of the U.S. Military — were the highlight of the parade and undermined Western claims that the Taliban would be unable to use U.S.-supplied aircraft after taking power. 

Maintenance crews and pilots trained by the U.S. who defected to the Taliban are thought to have been responsible for preparing and flying the aircraft. It remains uncertain, however, how the armed forces of the new Taliban-run Afghanistan will acquire spare parts for their equipment — with the possibility of assistance from neighboring Iran, which has a long history of reverse engineering parts for American helicopters, or China which deploys a small number of Black Hawks and has built very similar aircraft domestically, both being significant possibilities. 

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