As the Taliban took control of Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, on Sunday, the terror group also seized Bagram air base, freeing thousands of American prisoners, including some of the Taliban’s most hardened fighters. and senior al-Qaeda officials.
US forces handed over control of the airfield, located on the outskirts of Kabul, to the Afghan government in early July. Afghan forces at the base surrendered to the Taliban on Sunday, as other Taliban troops stormed the US embassy in Kabul and the presidential palace.
Afghan officials estimated that the United States left around 5,000 to 7,000 prisoners in the air base when the Americans left, according to Axios.
The Pul-e-Charkhi prison, the largest in Afghanistan, contained a maximum security cell block for prisoners of Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Afghan government troops have made control of the base combat-free.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley told senators the released prisoners would speed up a previous assessment of how quickly terrorist groups would rebuild in Afghanistan, Axios reported.
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Senator Lindsey Graham, R-SC, asked Milley and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin if they would revise a June assessment they sent to Congress warning of “medium” risk of terrorist groups reconstituting in the country within two years.
“Yes,” Milley said. He told Graham he should assume the terrorists would regain their full strength faster. He proposed to inform senators in a classified setting.
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