Over the past week, the Taliban have been showing off members of their “special forces” unit known as the Badri 313 Battalion wearing U.S.-donated western-style tactical gear and heavily accessorized modern military rifles.
Badri 313 members already caught viral attention after they posed for a photo, raising the Taliban flag in the same pose as the U.S. Marines in the World War II Battle of Iwo Jima.
“As can be seen from the photos, the Badri 313 unit has its fighters donned in US-made tactical gear, complete with night-vision goggles, camouflage, and combat equipment, to simulate the iconic World War II photograph #marines #History #Talibans.”
Billions in military equipment had been provided to the U.S.-backed Afghan military over the years. Bill Roggio, the managing editor of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Long War Journal, told AFP that as Afghan government forces surrendered to the Taliban, members of the Badri 313 increasingly integrated more western-style equipment into their arsenal.
“When they began to overrun the Afghan forces, they progressively integrated Western supplies,” Roggio said. “The U.S., in effect, armed the Taliban army.”
One Twitter user noted the “special forces” unit’s affinity for making videos and posing in photo shoots.
“The Badri 313 special forces. What’s intriguing about these special units of the Taliban is that they don’t look like your ‘typical’ taliban. They have shorter beards or stubbles in some cases and they are well equipped with thermal optics and night vision. They love making vids.”
“I can’t seem to stop myself from comparing them to the Mexican cartels in particular the CJNG (check the video below). They also love to dress in their uniforms and have ridiculous and have sophisticated weapons and very good video shoots,” the Twitter user added, with pictures of Badri 313 members posing for the camera.
Since the fall of Kabul to the Taliban on August 15, Badri 313 members have been deployed in the city streets, in order to further Taliban message that their members are bringing order to the country. The Telegraph reported Taliban propaganda often uses the Badri 313 to further the Taliban’s messaging that they can run a capable and credible new government following the collapse of the U.S.-backed Afghan government.
Matt Henman, the Associate Director and head of Janes Terrorism and Insurgency Centre (JTIC) at the Janes Defence consultancy told AFP that the members of Badri 313 “likely represents some of the best trained and equipped fighters within the Taliban more broadly, although as you would expect there is a degree of sensationalizing in propaganda coverage of the unit by the group.”
Calibre Obscura, which researches the weapons used in conflicts throughout the Middle East, told AFP the Badri 313 members would be no match for Western special forces units but “they are more effective than normal Taliban and certainly more than standard Afghan national army troops from a couple of weeks ago.”
One Twitter user shared footage of Badri 313 members in training. He tweeted, “Badri 313 While training. I am uploading this video to spread fear and panic in India. #Panjshir.”
Along with patrolling the streets of Kabul, members of the Badri 313 have reportedly been deployed to Afghanistan’s Panjshir province, where a resistance force continues to hold out against the Taliban takeover of the country.
A pro-Taliban Twitter user shared a photo purporting to show surrendering Panjshir resistance fighters. “The surrender of the Panjshir thugs continued. No one can compete with our Badri 313 unit.”