Daily Evacuation Brief | April 8, 2022
LAST 24 HOURS:
Scattered reports have come in about an explosion at an airfield in Helmand province. The Taliban claim a US drone carried out an airstrike on an ammunition cache near the airfield on Wednesday. See more information in the threat analysis below.
Several arrests of female protestors in Bamyan province have been reported. The women had torn down Taliban banners recently to protest the lack of access to education for women and girls. Some may have already been released, and we are still gathering information about the situation.
There are unconfirmed reports that two former members of the Afghan Army were arrested and executed in Mazar-i-Sharif. Their bodies were reportedly dumped in the streets. Both men were Hazara.
Resistance groups claimed to have launched attacks against the Taliban in both Parwan and Laghman provinces.
NEXT 24 HOURS:
The US will almost certainly issue a denial over claims of employing drones for airstrikes in Helmand. Sources have stated there is clear satellite imagery which shows the detonations were not preceded by an air-to-surface munition.
Security in the market areas of Kabul will be ramped up over an unspecified threat that was relayed to the Ministry of the Interior. Sources indicated the threat warned of another hand-grenade attack scheduled for the upcoming weekend.
SPOTLIGHT ANALYSIS: Air Strikes?
CONTEXT: Select sources within the Taliban claim an explosion that occurred at Shurab Airport in Helmand province on Wednesday was the result of a US drone strike on a Taliban weapons and ammunition depot. US officials have yet to comment on the situation but have stated as recently as late March that no “over the horizon” strikes had taken place in Afghanistan.
DISCUSSION: An eyewitness shared photos of a drone on Twitter but the photo seems suspicious given that skies were reportedly clear in Helmand province during the day of the supposed attack and the photo showed significant cloud cover. Other images circulating on social media show a massive fire at the site of the depot.
Figure 1Photo shared on social media claiming to depict the destruction at Shurab Airport, Helman province.
Accusations of US military actions have been tossed around by the Taliban without proof several times since coming to power. The US and NATO are convenient scapegoats for setbacks and are clearly being used to curry favor with civilians and sympathizers.
However, it is unclear who did coordinate the attack or if it was an internal mistake. Resistance groups have not been bashful about claiming responsibility for attacks and there were no social media posts on any of the known feeds in the aftermath. It is unlikely they had anything to do with it.
More information will be needed to determine what took place at Shurab Airport.
ANALYSIS: The storage and care of ammunition and arms is a difficult task for modern militaries. The Taliban has no experience in maintaining stocks of conventional munitions, and our analysis indicates this incident could be the result of the mishandling of ammunition.
If US drones were involved in the strike it’s likely Russia, China, or possibly Iran would provide proof to substantiate the claims. In what seems like a potentially coordinated information campaign, both Russia and China ramped up similar accusations about US “meddling” in regional issues over the past two weeks, largely in a desperate attempt to divert attention from Ukraine. Particularly vocal accusations have also been coming from Pakistan where the embattled Prime Minister has been loudly proclaiming the United States is orchestrating a campaign to remove him from power.
Russia and China will likely continue goading the Taliban into implicating US military actions in Afghanistan. The Taliban’s own domestic and regional agendas are better supported if they continue to portray the US and NATO as the villain. However, without proof, the international community is likely to ignore them.
Afghani to the Dollar: $1 – 88.18 AFN (as of 8 APR 2022)
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