THE Taliban has captured a massive stash of US-made weapons and drones as they tear towards Kabul.
The hardline Islamists’ lightning advance has seen them rip through another provincial city – the 10th they have taken – and they are now just around 80 miles from the Afghan capital.
After Taliban fighters took the city of Ghazni, they posted videos of themselves smiling as they walked the city’s streets unopposed with their weapons.
According to conservative estimates the Taliban is 30 days from reaching and isolating Kabul – and 90 from taking the city itself.
But the shocking speed of their advance, in the wake of the US and UK forces pulling out, means it could be in sight of the city much sooner.
Rob Clark, Defence Policy Associate at the Henry Jackson Society, told The Sun Online: “They could be at the gates of Kabul any day now.
“There’s very little stopping them actually getting to Kabul. But reaching Kabul is one thing but taking it and holding are two completely different issues.”
Clark, who fought in the country with the British Army, said the hope is the central government can “grind down the Taliban” and then there is a stalemate leading to peace negotiations.
He said the defence of the city lay in the “fighting spirit of the Afghan Special Forces and US airstrikes”.
“Take those two components away and it’s game over,” he said.
Pictures show US-made drones and other weapons captured by the Taliban that will be turned on their former owners.
Video also shows scores of US-made Humvees and other armoured vehicles captured by the militants, which they have already put to use in their lightning advance.
Afghans have already had a taste of Taliban brutality with reports emerging that they “going to door to door” to round up young girls to be “sex slaves” for the terror group.
Afghanistan’s ambassador to the US said terrified Kabul residents were preparing for the worst and a last stand.
“I think for every Afghan it’s difficult – we don’t advocate for war. But there is a time we need to defend the country and ourselves,” said Adela Raz.
All gateways to Kabul, which lies in a valley surrounded by mountains, were choked with civilians fleeing violence, a Western security source told Reuters.
It was hard to tell whether Taliban fighters were also getting through, the source said.
“The fear is of suicide bombers entering the diplomatic quarters to scare, attack and ensure everyone leaves at the earliest opportunity,” he said.
The Islamists now control 65 per cent of Afghanistan and are threatening Kandahar, the country’s second largest city.
Intense fighting is continuing there and the city’s main prison has been overrun, with the Taliban releasing around 1,000 prisoners, thought to have been held on political grounds.
As the Afghan army collapses, the fate of the country appears to lie in the hands of its numerous but divided warlords.
President Ashraf Ghani flew to Mazar-i-Sharif to meet the warlords there who are organising a defence of the biggest city in the north as Taliban forces closed in
One of them is the whisky-swilling Abdul Rashid Dostum, who has swooped into northern Afghanistan to lead the fight against the Taliban.
He allegedly killed a prisoner by crushing him under a tank has swooped into northern Afghanistan to lead the fight against the Taliban.
US President Joe Biden said on Tuesday he did not regret his decision to withdraw and urged Afghan leaders to fight for their homeland.
Washington had spent more than $1 trillion over 20 years and lost thousands of troops, and continued to provide significant air support, food, equipment and salaries to Afghan forces, he said.
The Afghans “need to determine if they have the political will to fight back and if they have the ability to unite as leaders to fight back,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.