WASHINGTON: Over two dozen Republican senators have sought accountability from the Biden administration over billions of dollars worth of US sensitive military equipment seized by the Taliban in Afghanistan and warned about the possibility of the insurgents seeking help from countries like Russia, Pakistan, Iran and China to use them.
In the letter to Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, senators Bill Cassidy, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and 22 Senate Republicans expressed grave concern regarding the status of high-tech US military equipment left behind in Afghanistan as a result of "our poorly executed withdrawal" from the country.
The Taliban insurgents swept Kabul on Sunday after the US-backed Afghan government collapsed and President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, bringing an unprecedented end to a two-decade campaign in which the US and its allies had tried to transform the war-ravaged nation.
The senators asked the Biden administration to account for taxpayer-funded American military equipment that may have fallen into the Taliban's hands after they seized Kabul on Sunday.
Billions of dollars of US weapons are now in the hands of the Taliban insurgents following the quick collapse of the Afghan security forces that were trained to use the military equipment.
Among the weapons seized by the Taliban are Black Hawk helicopters and A-29 Super Tucano attack aircraft.
"As we watched the images coming out of Afghanistan as the Taliban retook the country, we were horrified to see US equipment including UH-60 Black Hawks in the hands of the Taliban," Republican senators wrote in a letter to Austin on Thursday.
Photos have also circulated of Taliban fighters clutching US-made M4 carbines and M16 rifles.
The militants have been spotted with US Humvees and mine-resistant vehicles, The Hill political website reported.
Many of these weapons and vehicles were handed over by the US as part of the billions of dollars spent over the years to try and prop up Afghanistan's armed forces.
"It is unconscionable that high-tech military equipment paid for by US taxpayers has fallen into the hands of the Taliban and their terrorist allies.
Securing US assets should have been among the top priorities for the US Department of Defense prior to announcing the withdrawal from Afghanistan," the senators wrote.
In their letter, the senators sought a full account of military equipment provided to the Afghan armed forces last year.
"An assessment of the likelihood that the Taliban will seek to work with Russia, Pakistan, Iran, or the People's Republic of China for training, fuel, or infrastructure necessary to utilise the equipment they do not have the capabilities to use on their own,: the letter said.
The letter also sought to find out if the Biden administration has made any efforts, planned or underway, to recapture or destroy the equipment that remains in Afghanistan and is at risk of being used by terrorist entities.