The Afghan Taliban have released video footage of a large group of fighters at a purported US base in eastern Afghanistan that was recently “liberated.”
The footage was part of a 38-minute-long videotape titled “Maidan Wardak, the Gate of Kabul,” which was released on Sept. 12 by Al Emarah Studios, the propaganda arm of the Taliban. “Footage shows fighters attacking convoys and setting fire to vehicles, and also fighters entering an American base in Wardak province after they reportedly ‘liberated’ it,” according to a description of the videotape by the SITE Intelligence Group.
The portion of the tape that shows the Taliban touring the base includes footage of scores of Taliban fighters riding on motorcycles and in cars. The large Taliban group is operating in the open during daylight, and does not appear fearful of reprisals. Another group of Taliban, presumably commanders, is then seen touring the base on foot. The Taliban inspect buildings and other parts of the base, all of which are intact. Although the Taliban claimed the base was “liberated,” implying it was taken by force, the base appears to have been abandoned; there are no military vehicles, equipment, weapons, captured soldiers, or dead bodies seen.
The location of the base is not given; the Taliban said only that the base is located in Wardak province, which borders Kabul province to the south. It is unclear if the base shown was run by the US military, the Afghan Army, or a contracting group. The base is built and laid out like many US combat outposts, with HESCO walls, command posts, guard towers, utility buildings, and huts that appear to be living quarters.
The Long War Journal contacted the press desks of the International Security Assistance Force and its sub-command, the ISAF Joint Command, to obtain information on the base, but did not receive a response.
A US military officer who wished not to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue told The Long War Journal that the base in the Taliban propaganda video is Combat Outpost Tangi, which was transitioned to Afghan forces in April. Afghan troops later abandoned the outpost, the officer said.
Wardak province has been the scene of controversy over the past two months. The Taliban are in control of the Tangi Valley following the withdrawal of US forces from a combat outpost this spring. On Aug. 6, the Taliban downed a Chinook helicopter in the Sayed Abad district, killing 38 US and Afghan forces, including 17 US Navy SEALS from the Naval Special Warfare Development Group (more commonly referred to as SEAL Team 6). And on Sept. 10, the Taliban detonated a massive suicide bomb outside of Combat Outpost Sayed Abad, killing four Afghans and wounding more than 100 people, including 77 US soldiers.
The Taliban have released similar propaganda tapes in the past. Taliban fighters were seen touring abandoned combat outposts in the northeastern provinces of Kunar and Nuristan.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.