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Graphic video shows Taliban reportedly executed surrendering Afghan special forces troops

An Afghan National Army Commando squad conducts live fire exercises during training at Camp Pamir, Kunduz province, Afghanistan, Feb. 13, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sean Carnes)
July 13, 2021

New video circulating the internet last week reportedly shows Taliban fighters executing several surrendering Afghan special forces troops.

The video, first widely shared by the combat footage website Funker530 on July 7, purports to show the Taliban executing Afghan Ktah Khas (KKA) special operations forces soldiers in Afghanistan’s Faryab Province, though Funker530 noted it the authenticity of the video is unconfirmed. The original video can be viewed on the Funker530 website.

On Tuesday, CNN also reported that the Red Cross confirmed it had recovered the bodies of 22 Afghan commandos and that the group execution took place on June 16.

In the video, the surrendering troops walk out from a building as their armed captors usher them into a courtyard or street. The surrendering soldiers are not carrying any firearms and can be seen with their hands up before kneeling on the ground. One apparent Taliban fighter can be briefly seen carrying an M4-style rifle, complete with a foregrip, IR laser and ACOG style optic, that Funker530 noted is indicative of an Afghan SOF unit.

After the surrendering soldiers were corralled into the courtyard, they began to kneel on the ground. As the surrendering soldiers kneeled one of their captors began to shout and then a barrage of rifle fire could be heard. The camera footage becomes blurry and disoriented during the shooting. After a cut, the video shows out-of-focus footage of the bodies of the slain soldiers lying on the ground.

Funker530 said it typically has a policy against showing executions or terrorist propaganda but said this video could have the opposite effect of spreading pro-Taliban messaging, as it appears to undermine Taliban claims that surrender is a viable option for Afghan forces.

“The Taliban are hoping more ANA surrender to ease their push through Afghanistan, and they would like to be taken seriously as a government organization. This footage hurts both of their goals,” Funker530 wrote of the video. “The Taliban would like the ANA to believe that instead of being executed and imprisoned, willing surrender is a ‘safe option,’ and they will be treated humanely. They are trying to spread this narrative by establishing direct contact with Afghan forces, pledging that if they surrendered they would be left alive and even given allowances to return to their homelands.”

The execution video comes as Taliban forces have continued to seize control of large portions of Afghanistan. Around 1,000 Afghan government troops recently fled across the country’s northeast border into Tajikstan to escape. Taliban leaders recently claimed they control about 85 percent of Afghanistan’s territory.

U.S. forces are still in the process of leaving Afghanistan after President Joe Biden announced plans for a full withdrawal in April. Biden has also vowed to begin evacuation flights for Afghan allies who worked alongside U.S. and NATO forces over the last 20 years in Afghanistan who are now being targeted by the Taliban.

Despite the Taliban’s reported rapid territorial gains, Biden said last week that in the fight between the Taliban and the Afghan government forces, “I trust the capacity of the Afghan military, who is better trained, better equipped, and more competent in terms of conducting war.”

During a White House address on the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan last week, Biden pushed back on claims the U.S. intelligence community has assessed the U.S.-backed Afghan government will collapse. Biden said he predicts Afghanistan will not endure as a single unified government, but said U.S. intelligence officials “did not reach that conclusion,” that the Afghan government would fall.