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Taliban details deadly ambush of Afghan military convoy

The Taliban has documented the aftermath of last week’s ambush on Afghan security personnel on the outskirts the provincial capital of Helmand which resulted in scores of troops killed and dozens more captured. The Taliban released a video today that details the deadly ambush near Lashkar Gah, which underscores the deteriorating security situation in the province.

The ambush, which took place on Oct. 11 in Basharan near Lashkar Gah, was previously described by both the Taliban and The New York Times. The Taliban reportedly ambushed a large convoy of Afghan troops after negotiating their safe passage from their base. A contingent of more than 300 Afghan troops were besieged by the Taliban. According to the Taliban, 69 Afghan security personnel were killed, 33 more were wounded and subsequently captured, and 125 surrendered. The Times later reported that between 100 and 200 Afghan security personnel were killed. [See Threat Matrix report, Taliban reportedly kills 100 Afghan troops in Helmand capital.]

Afghan officials in the Defense and Interior ministries denied the report that its forces took high casualties near Helmand, and there was no reporting of the ambush in the Afghan press. However, the initial Taliban and The New York Times accounts closely matched.

Today, Taliban backed up its version of events in Basharan when it released a video which includes footage of the ambush and its aftermath. The video was released by Al Emarah Studio, which is “part of [the] multimedia branch [of] the cultural commission of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” the Taliban said in a statement released on Voice of Jihad.

The video, which is just over 35 minutes long, “presents report of a successful attack on a large military and logistical convoy in Basharan area of Helmand’s capital Lashkargah.”

According to the Taliban, the video shows “Mujahideen attacks on a hireling convoy heading towards capital Lashkargah for breaking the siege of the capital.”

The Taliban video confirmed their own claim that a large number of troops were killed and captured during the ambush. One scene shows a large number of captive Afghan troops sitting in a room. Several captured security personnel are interviewed at the end of the video. Other video clips show dozens of slain Afghan security personnel lying next to burned out or destroyed vehicles.

The Taliban also show a large number of vehicles captured or destroyed during the ambush. Taliban fighters are seen driving several functional US-supplied HUMVEEs and Ford Ranger pickup trucks that are normally used by the Afghan National Police and Afghan Local Police. One of the HUMVEEs captured looks to be so new that it has what appears to be shipping paperwork taped to the window. The Taliban also show a captured M1117 armored vehicle. A number of burned-out pickup trucks, HUMVEEs, and cars are also displayed in the video.

The video appears to support the Taliban’s initial claim from last week that it destroyed “8 APCs [and] 1 Kamaz truck” and seized “1 armored tank [likely the M1117], 22 APCs [likely the HUMVEEs], 20 ranger pickups, 3 other vehicles and different types ammunition.”

The Taliban recorded the video in the daylight, presumably the morning or afternoon following the ambush, which was said to have taken place at 2:30 a.m. local time. Despite several hours passing between the ambush and defeat of the Afghan forces and the recording of the video, there was no apparent response from the Afghan military or from the US Air Force. The Taliban seen in the video are operating in the open during daylight just outside of the provincial capital and do not appear to be concerned about airstrikes.

The video highlights the precarious situation in Lashkar Gah, which has been under Taliban threat for well over year. In Oct. 2015, The Taliban advanced to within miles of Lashkar Gah, which has been besieged ever since. US advisers have been deployed to Lashkar Gah and other districts in Helmand to help Afghan forces battle the Taliban, but have struggled to contain the threat. Of Helmand’s 14 districts, six are known to be controlled by the Taliban and another seven, including the provincial capital, are heavily contested. The Taliban are threatening four other provincial capitals.

Images from the Taliban video of the Basharan ambush:

Bill Roggio :Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.