Afghanistan: Drones spotted for fifth consecutive day in Baghlan

Drones have been observed over Baghlan province for the fifth consecutive day, with sightings also reported over Taliban facilities in Kandahar, according to sources. Residents in Kapisa province have also noted drone activity above their area recently.

The Taliban has not responded to these recent surveillance activities. However, local sources indicate that drones have been sighted in various provinces at least nine times in the past 10 days.

Analysts believe the drones, which are equipped with monitoring and bombing capabilities, belong to U.S. troops monitoring terrorist groups. “During these past few nights and days, we have seen drones in Baghlan, and we don’t know which country they come from or for what purpose. After they conduct surveillance, they leave again,” a resident of Baghlan said.

Before August 2021, more than 13,000 drone strikes were reported in Afghanistan, sometimes resulting in civilian casualties. Since the Taliban’s takeover in August 2021, drone surveillance operations have continued in the country.

U.S. officials have stated they would conduct over-the-horizon operations if terrorist threats to the U.S. and its allies are detected from Afghanistan. “This group [Taliban] will be present in Afghanistan as a proxy group for a certain period, and this group does not have the capacity to govern Afghanistan,” said Akmal Baqa, a lecturer.

In the more than two years since the Taliban’s resurgence, the U.S. has repeatedly carried out drone strikes in Afghanistan. In August 2021, a drone targeted a local area in Kabul under the pretext of a Daesh center, resulting in civilian casualties. However, in 2022, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of Al-Qaeda, was killed in a drone strike in Kabul.

“Al-Qaeda and Daesh have sought to recruit more individuals in Afghanistan, and today they have training centers in provinces like Parwan, Kunar, and still in southwestern Afghanistan. Drones are conducting surveillance to monitor and detect these groups in the Afghan airspace,” said Mohammad Radmanesh, a military analyst.

The U.S. maintains it has the capability to monitor terrorist activities through its over-the-horizon operations. Meanwhile, the Taliban has denounced the drone movements as a violation of Afghan airspace, though it has not yet declared if it will take any action.