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 - Sputnik International, 1920, 07.09.2021
Afghanistan
The future appears uncertain for Afghanistan following its takeover by the Taliban as US-led forces withdrew from the country after 20 years of occupation. As other nations continue to evacuate their citizens, the Central Asian country has been struck by political and humanitarian crises.

Top US Republican Says Afghan Issue Worse Now Than Pre 9/11 Since Taliban Has US Weapons

© AFP 2021 / DREW ANGERERRep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) listens to discussion about the American military withdrawal in Afghanistan, during a meeting with House Republicans, including those who served in the military, on August 30, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) listens to discussion about the American military withdrawal in Afghanistan, during a meeting with House Republicans, including those who served in the military, on August 30, 2021 in Washington, DC. - Sputnik International, 1920, 06.09.2021
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The Taliban* came to power in Afghanistan in a swift offensive that spanned just weeks and ended with the sudden fall of Kabul and the US-appointed government on August 15. The US, which was engaged in the evacuation of the Americans and allies, left a huge amount of weapons and military equipment in the hands of the Islamists.
US Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, stated on Sunday that the situation in Afghanistan is "worse" than it was before the September 11 terror attacks because the Taliban is now "fully armed" with American weapons.
In an interview with "Fox News Sunday," McCaul was asked how he sees the terror danger from Afghanistan now that the Taliban has gained power, given the limitations imposed by over-the-horizon operations, the congressman claimed the situation is worse than it was before the 2001 attacks.
“We're going back to pre-9/11 right now, but it's worse, it's worse because now they're fully armed with our weapons, our helicopters and pallets of our cash," McCaul told Fox News' Chris Wallace.
McCaul noted that the US' ability to "deal with" the terror threat in Afghanistan without American troops on the ground is "greatly exaggerated" because Afghanistan is landlocked and surrounded by "enemies" who "have now been emboldened by this foreign policy blunder."
"We have to establish that ISR [intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance] capability somewhere over the horizon," he stressed. "[That] means flying from the Gulf, probably countries like Qatar, which would be, you know, anywhere from six to eight hours, having to fly, you know, around Iran over Pakistan, get refueling."
McCaul added that when talking to military members, they told him "this is not adequate for us to have ISR capability, well, we need to see, eyes and ears on the ground, to see the threat so that we can respond to the threat and eliminate it."
Moreover, in the interview, McCaul emphasized, when discussing the alleged mass murders of ex-Afghan government officials by the Taliban, that the insurgent group is not "new and improved," but rather is reverting to the "brutal" tactics it used when it was in control more than 20 years ago.
Six commercial airplanes are seen near the main terminal of the Mazar-i-Sharif airport, in northern Afghanistan, September 3 2021. Picture taken September 3, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 05.09.2021
Taliban Reportedly Blocks At Least Four Planes With Refugees, Americans From Departing Afghanistan
The Texan Republican also told the show's presenter Chris Wallace that six flights were currently being held at the airport in the northern part of the country, with American nationals and Afghan collaborators on board, and the Taliban was purposefully creating the situation, "holding them hostage" to make demands to the US. 
The Associated Press, however, reported citing local Afghan officials, that there were only four planes on hold at the airstrip, and the intended passengers were Afghans, many of whom lacked passports or visas, making it impossible for them to fly out of the country. They had left the airport while the situation was being sorted out, staying at a nearby hotel.
Earlier this week, several videos have been circulating on social media of US military personnel deliberately wrecking military vehicles at Kabul airport in a desperate attempt to render them useless before they fall to the insurgents. However, there was a slew of reports and graphic materials, showing that some Taliban fighters managed to capture operational UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and stashes of US weapon systems, which were previously provided to the now-defunct Afghan National Army.
*The Taliban is a terrorist group banned in Russia and a number of other countries.
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