Footage Shows US Troops Firing Over Heads of Afghan Civilians Amid Kabul Airport Chaos
12:18 GMT 04.09.2021 (Updated: 12:32 GMT 04.09.2021)
© Photo : Facebook / Michael MarklandScreengrab of US Marine Michael Markland's viral video showing the chaos at Kabul's airport in the final days of the US presence there.
© Photo : Facebook / Michael Markland
The last US troops left Afghanistan on Monday, bringing to an end the 19+ year war in and occupation of that war-torn nation. In their final two weeks in the country following the Taliban takeover of Kabul, US and allied forces were largely confined to the Kabul airport, where they engaged in the evacuation of tens of thousands of people.
Footage has circulated on social media showing US troops and Afghan security personnel standing behind barbed wire fencing at an entrance to Kabul airport while firing and throwing smoke grenades, indiscriminately shooting what look like blanks or rubber bullets into a crowd of Afghan civilians.
The footage, filmed by US serviceman Michael Markland and shot at the airport’s security perimeter, goes on to show troops retreating behind the concrete barrier, some covering their faces, as the tear gas takes effect and stings soldiers’ eyes. Some civilians are also seen covering their faces following the gas attack. At one point, troops in Afghan army fatigues are seen beating unidentified individuals with the butts of their Kalashnikov rifles. Yet another portion of the video show medics trying to treat an individual who may have been hit by a projectile or stampeded, while another shows Marines carrying an unidentified individual in what looks like a black body bag as a distraught-looking man and two children walk behind them. One more clip shows four Marines running with a stretcher with a civilian on it.
The gritty footage is part of a longer, 8 minute, 18 second-long video by the Marine, who posted it to his Facebook and Instagram, with the footage going viral in a matter of hours, and accompanied by hit songs by Title Fight and Wu-Tang Clan. The video, shot by a GoPro camera mounted on Markland's helmet, captures moments from the chaotic final days of US operations at Kabul airport, and shows troops guarding the facility, trashing offices and destroying military equipment, enjoying some downtime with their fellow troops, and having to deal with unsanitary conditions of the airports restroom facilities.
Markland was forced to take his viral video down from his social media accounts, informing followers that “way more important people than [him] have [seen it] as well and are forcing me to delete it.” The video has since popped up in other places, however. Markland did not specify who these “more important people” were.
The Pentagon released its own collection of media, including over 1,200 images and 60+ videos, on its official Afghanistan Evacuation section of the Defence Visual Information Distribution Service. However, none of the images or videos there feature the raw, gritty and often disturbing content shown by Markland in his viral clip.
The US deployed a detachment of about 1,000 additional Marines to the Kabul airport in mid-August to assist in the evacuation operations, with the White House insisting on completing the evacuations by 31 August as planned. Over 122,000 people were evacuated out of the country in two weeks’ time, with the US airlifting over 100,000, according to President Joe Biden.