Photos: Tanks, helicopters, artillery: See what the U.S. left behind in Afghanistan
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When Taliban fighters rode triumphantly into Kabul airport early Tuesday, they did so on U.S. pickup trucks, wearing American-made uniforms and brandishing American M4 and M16 rifles. They spent hours looking at the vast array of U.S. military equipment and weaponry that had been left behind by U.S. troops in Afghanistan ..

The group’s blindingly fast sweep through most of Afghanistan netted it billions of dollars’ worth of U.S. military equipment and weaponry given to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, which collapsed in the 11 days before the Taliban seized Kabul, the capital, on Aug. 15. Many of the military and political leaders fled Afghanistan after Afghan soldiers refused to surrender their uniforms and gear.

A Taliban fighter raises a white flag in front of a military helicopter

A Taliban fighter raises the Taliban banner at Hamid Karzai International Airport after the U.S. withdrawal on Aug. 31.

(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

“This is ghanima,” said one uniformed Taliban fighter: war booty. He reached for his night-vision helmet and grabbed it with one hand. It looked exactly like an Afghan soldier that the U.S. tried to eradicate. He walked into a hangar, glancing at his U.S. Embassy helicopter squad mates.

For their effort, Taliban fighters reaped almost 2,000 Humvees and trucks; more than 50 armored fighting vehicles, including Mine-Resistant Ambush Protection vehicles, or MRAPs; scores of artillery and mortar pieces; more than a dozen aging but working helicopters and attack aircraft; a dozen tanks; seven Boeing-manufactured drones; and millions upon millions of bullets, according to a list compiled by the Oryx Blog, which tracks weapons used in conflicts. Many of these items were destroyed by U.S. troops, or were too dangerous for Taliban fighters to use. But a bitter result of the chaotic Western withdrawal from Afghanistan is that the very group the U.S. ousted 20 years ago is not only back in power but better equipped militarily than ever before to repel adversaries and enforce its brand of repressive rule.

Taliban fighters stand with rifles in front of a military jet

Taliban fighters are ready to defend Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport.

(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

A fighter with a rifle sits inside an airport control tower

A Taliban fighter sits at an air traffic control tower at Hamid Karzai International Airport.

(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

A Taliban fighter walks with a rifle outside a fence

A Taliban fighter patrols outside the airport on Aug. 29, shortly before the U.S. withdrawal.

(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Taliban fighters line up with rifles in front of a fence

Taliban fighters display their weapons outside the Kabul airport on Aug. 25, before the U.S. pullout.

(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Taliban fighters ride in camouflage pickup trucks

Taliban fighters patrol the Kabul airport on Aug. 31 after the U.S. exit.

(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Barbed wire covers the ground with jetliners in the background

Barbed wire is left behind Aug. 31 after the U.S. withdrawal.

(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Taliban fighters stand beside a jetliner on the tarmac

Taliban fighters patrol the tarmac at Hamid Karzai International Airport on Aug. 31.

(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Barbed wire in front of two vehicles

Vehicles and barbed wire form a barrier around civilian terminals at the Kabul airport on Aug. 31.

(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Armored vehicles at the airport

Military cars are abandoned on the tarmac of Kabul’s airport.

(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

A Taliban fighter appears in the open door of a vehicle next to a white Taliban flag

A Taliban fighter patrols outside the Kabul airport on Aug. 29, before the U.S. pullout.

(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

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