ISIS militants in Afghanistan claim to have captured a trove of weapons and equipment belonging to the U.S. military as soldiers retreated after clashing with ISIS fighters on the battlefield. The terrorist group posted several images of a shoulder-fired U.S. rocket launcher, grenades, a radio and a U.S. Soldier’s identification card that they claim was left behind as American soldiers fled. The United States military denies these claims and state that the equipment is an aggregation of equipment left behind over the course of several prior missions. They government reports that the terrorist organization displayed all of the collected equipment together as part of a propaganda campaign.
U.S. forces have been engaging ISIS militants in Afghanistan for several weeks. Afghanistan, specifically the Nangahar Province, has become a stronghold for ISIS and hotbed for terrorist activity in recent months. Military officials claim that the equipment featured in the photos was collected over the course of several weeks. It is common practice for the Taliban, ISIS’ Jihadi rival in the area, to scour battlefields for equipment left behind by American soldiers after an engagement. Military officials believe the equipment shown in the pictures released by ISIS’ media arm were collected in the same fashion.
Among the items seen in the photograph is an identification card belonging to Specialist Ryan Jay Larson. A pentagon official has confirmed that Larson is with his unit and has not been captured or detained by ISIS, further their belief that the items pictured were not collected recently. Commander Ron Flesvig, a U.S. military spokesman, told Reuters that Larson’s ID was most likely left behind during a recent operation carried out between U.S. and Afghan forces. Flesvig has not confirmed or denied whether all of the items featured in the picture were left behind during that mission. He told Reuters:
“SPC Larson was attached to a unit conducting a partnered [operation] with Afghan Forces, The soldier’s ID and some of the equipment were left behind after the [operation]. The loss of personal identification is unfortunate.”
Several types of ammunition and weapons can be seen in the picture such as an M72 single-shot rocket launcher, a spare barrel for an M240 machine gun, 40mm grenades, a hand grenade, smoke grenades, and 5.56mm rifle rounds, 7.62mm rounds. Other non-combat orientated items are also seen including body armor, knee pads, eye goggles, gauze, a radio and flex cuffs used to detain prisoners.
The Pentagon has not yet confirmed that all of the items seen belong to the U.S. military. They have, however, stated that they believe all of the items seen were “likely lost during recent operations.” The official went on to say that they are still confirming whether these items were obtained recently or “at some other time in the past.”