On Wednesday, the Taliban celebrated the one-year anniversary of the final U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan after a 20-year insurgency against the U.S. and its allies. The Taliban held parades at the U.S. Embassy building in Kabul and at Bagram Airbase — which served as a major hub of U.S. military activity until the U.S. left the base in July 2021.
One video shared on Wednesday showed Maulvi Hasan Akhund, the prime minister of the interim Taliban government, and interim defense minister Maulvi Yaqoob in attendance at the Bagram parade. Hundreds of Taliban fighters joined the parade, showing off their various units and military equipment.
The Bagram parade came exactly one year after 82nd Airborne Division Maj. Gen. Chris Donahue was photographed as the last U.S. soldier out of Afghanistan, marking the conclusion of the U.S. military’s withdrawal from the country. Donahue’s departure symbolized the end of the 20-year U.S. campaign in Afghanistan.
The Taliban seized control of vast swathes of Afghanistan even as U.S. forces were still packing up to leave the country. The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the formal name for the Afghan government that the U.S. and its allies had backed since 2004, collapsed on Aug. 15, 2021 as the Taliban seized control of the capital city of Kabul.
The rapid collapse of the U.S.-backed Afghan government came despite more than 17 years of support. The U.S. and its allies gave billions of dollars worth of support to the now-defunct Afghan government, including $85 billion in weapons and related military training.
Among those Taliban units reportedly in attendance during the Bagram Airbase parade were members of the Taliban’s suicide bomber battalion. According to 1TV News AF current affairs editor Hamid Haidari, the suicide bomber battalions are now an official unit of the Taliban government’s military.
The Taliban also paraded out missile launchers.
Global News editor Dean Shmuel Elmas tweeted, “As part of the ‘finger stick’ in the eyes of the Americans, the Taliban celebrated one year of the ‘liberation’ of Afghanistan with a military parade at the Bagram air force base used by the Americans in the suburbs of the capital Kabul.”
After the U.S.-backed Kabul government collapsed, the U.S. military led the civilian evacuation of U.S. and western citizens and Afghan refugees. Amid the last-minute civilian evacuation and final military withdrawal, U.S. forces elected to leave behind tons of its own military equipment and equipment it had given to the Afghan government since 2004.
The U.S. State Department pulled its personnel out of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul on Aug. 15, 2021. The embassy staff temporarily carried out their duties out of the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, which served as the point of departure for civilian evacuation flights. On Aug. 31, 2021, the same day that the last U.S. troops left Afghanistan, the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan officially suspended its operations out of the Kabul Embassy building, instead having a small crew of embassy personnel carry on their duties remotely through the U.S. Embassy in Doha, Qatar.
Kabul-based journalist Ali Latifi shared photos of Taliban supporters waving Taliban flags outside the now-defunct U.S. Embassy building in Kabul.
Latifi also shared a video yesterday purporting to show the Taliban government lighting off fireworks and shooting weapons into the air in celebration of the one-year anniversary of the end of the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan.
Another journalist, Anees Ur Rehman, shared more videos of the nighttime fireworks and celebratory gunfire.
Rehman reported 12 people were treated at a Kabul hospital for injuries related to the celebratory gunfire.
Rehman shared another video of celebrations last night as Taliban supporters gathered outside the defunct U.S. Embassy in Kabul.