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By Russ Read
The Taliban released a video of its forces proudly parading the streets of Waghaz, Afghanistan after taking it last month, but it is only the most recent example of the group’s brazen celebrations.
The video, entitled the “Conquest of Waghaz,” was released Thursday on the Taliban propaganda website Voice of Jihad. It depicts Taliban fighters driving through the district’s streets on motorcycles, cars and other vehicles. The fighters proudly waved their guns in the air as they pass by the camera, and a captured U.S. humvee is put on display. Large groups of locals greeted the parade.
“The fact they are parading without fear of repercussions … tells you what you need to know,” Bill Roggio, editor of the Long War Journal and senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Taliban victory parades have become almost commonplace in Afghanistan. Roggio pointed to several other examples since 2015, including video footage of a parade in Sangin district released in May. Taliban forces retook Sangin’s district center after Afghan forces retreated to a new district center. NATO asserted that the move had been planned for some time, but some reports claimed that the center was overrun.
The Taliban statement accompanying the parade video claimed that the group had “liberated” Waghaz, which is located in the Ghazni province. The district was retaken during what the group called “Operation Mansouri,” a new spring offensive campaign.
Taliban forces now control five of the 18 districts in Ghazni and are in contention for nine others, according to Roggio. Only three are fully under the Afghan government’s control.
The Afghan government has removed forces from many rural districts, allowing the Taliban to retake them. Afghan forces consider many of these areas non-strategic. Ghazni, however, has served as an important base of operations for al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations in the past.
Roggio noted that the celebratory videos serve an important propaganda function both locally and internationally, especially during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
“We should expect more videos like these,” said Roggio.