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Fact Check: 'Body' Seen Dangling from US Chopper in Viral Video is an 'Alive' Talib Trying to Put a Flag on Pole

A video of the Taliban flying a US Blackhawk chopper with a hanging body surfaced social media on August 30, 2021. (Image: @TalibTimes/ Twitter)

A video of the Taliban flying a US Blackhawk chopper with a hanging body surfaced social media on August 30, 2021. (Image: @TalibTimes/ Twitter)

A fact-check report claimed that the man in the video is not dead and can be seen making gestures. Local journalist Sadiqullah Afghan said the man was a Talib and was trying to put a flag on a 100-metre pole.

A video of the Taliban flying a US helicopter, from which a body was seen hanging, has surfaced on social media. ‘Talib Times’, a profile in Twitter that claims to be the ‘English language official account of Islamic Emirate Afghanistan’ shared the video on Monday and said that their air force was patrolling the city of Kandahar.

The video was posted hours after the last US military transport aircraft lifted out of Afghanistan, leaving behind up to 200 Americans and several hundreds of desperate Afghans. “Our Air Force! At this time, the Islamic Emirate’s air force helicopters are flying over Kandahar city and patrolling the city," said the tweet.

The tweet made no mention of the dangling body. However, it was unclear as to whether it was a body, a dummy, or if someone was being lowered to safety. Republican senator Ted Cruz too shared the video and said it summed up President Joe Biden’s Afghanistan botch-up.

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A fact-check report by Alt News, meanwhile, claimed that the man in the video is not dead and can be seen making gestures. “With a keyword search on Twitter in Pashto, we came across the following tweets that confirmed the helicopters were flying in Kandahar. If you look closely, the rope can be seen attached to the man’s back. He is suspended from a harness and not a noose around the neck," the report stated.

Alt News also came across a tweet by Afghan news agency Aśvaka that posted a similar video of a helicopter over the Kandahar governor office. When the fact-checking organisation got in touch with the channel, Aśvaka confirmed that the man was suspended from the helicopter to fix the flag on the governor’s building. “We have a team there, they have confirmed that the person was controlled and hanging from the helicopter to fix the flag at the governor’s building in Kandahar," the channel was quoted.

The report further said that local journalist Sadiqullah Afghan too posted one of the videos that showed a man suspended from a helicopter. He informed that the man was a Talib and was trying to put a flag on a 100-metre pole.

The US military had earlier said it disabled a number of aircraft and high-tech rocket defense system to prevent the Taliban from using them. “Most of them are non-mission capable to begin with. But certainly they’ll never be able to be flown again,” news agency AFP quoted Central Command Head General Kenneth McKenzie as saying.

The Taliban reportedly controls over 2000 armored vehicles, which include US Humvees, and up to 40 aircraft potentially including UH-60 Black Hawks, scout attack helicopters, and ScanEagle military drones.

The US has provided Blackhawk helicopters, which incidentally was the one seen in the video shared by Talib Times.

Since 2003 the United States has provided Afghan forces with at least 600,000 infantry weapons including M16 assault rifles, 162,000 pieces of communication equipment, and 16,000 night-vision goggle devices.

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first published:August 31, 2021, 19:46 IST