Explainer: What is Badri 313 unit? Taliban's so-called 'special force'

WION Web Team
New DelhiUpdated: Aug 31, 2021, 07:11 PM IST

Members of the Taliban Badri 313 military unit stands guard next to a Afghan Air Force aircraft at the airport in Kabul on August 31, 2021, after the US has pulled all its troops out of the country to end a brutal 20-year war Photograph:(AFP)

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Taliban has captured large amount of weapons and equipment abandoned by the US and now-defeated Afghan National Army

Taliban's grip on power in Afghanistan is a forgone conclusion. But there is qualitative difference in their hold than when they ruled Afghanistan in the late 90s. This time, the Taliban have been able to lay their hands on weapons and other military equipment left hurriedly by the US forces.

Over last week, pictures of a so-called 'special force' of Taliban are doing round. This is being called the "Badri 313" unit and being projected as something of an elite force of the Taliban

What is Badri 313 unit?

Badri 313 unit

Named after the battle of Badr 1,400 years ago, when the Prophet Mohammed supposedly vanquished his enemies with only 313 soldiers, the Taliban unit could number up to several thousand men, experts say.

It's not fully clear how much equipment is at their disposal. But there are number of images of them with captured Humvees, aircraft and weapons abandoned by defeated Afghan National Army.

Pictures and videos of fighters in the so-called "Badri 313" unit have been posted online for propaganda purposes to underline how the Taliban have better equipped and trained men at their disposal than in the past, experts say.

The soldiers are shown in uniforms, boots, balaclavas and body armour similar to those worn by special forces around the world -- and unlike the shalwar kameez, turban and sandals of the traditional Taliban fighter.

Badri forces

Rather than a battered Russian-designed Kalashnikov rifle slung over their shoulder, the men of Badri 313 hold new US-made rifles such as the M4, sometimes with night-vision goggles and advanced gunsights. 

What do the experts say?

Badri 313 "likely represents some of the best trained and equipped fighters within the Taliban more broadly, although as you would expect there is a degree of sensationalising in propaganda coverage of the unit by the group," Matt Henman from the Janes defence consultancy told AFP.

A Western weapons expert who writes on Twitter under the pseudonym Calibre Obscura told AFP that the Badri forces would be no match for Western special forces or those of India and Pakistan.

But "they are more effective than normal Taliban and certainly more than standard Afghan national army troops from a couple of weeks ago," he told AFP.

Taliban Badri forces

Experts say the most sophisticated equipment, especially the helicopters, will be difficult to operate and near-impossible to maintain. 

"There is certainly a degree of propaganda, but we saw during the final offensive since May that the Taliban special forces have been critical in the taking over of Afghanistan," said Bill Roggio, managing editor of the US-based Long War Journal. 

"When they began to overrun the Afghan forces, they progressively integrated Western supplies. The US in effect armed the Taliban army," he added.

(With inputs from agencies)