taliban photos afghanistan
An air crew assigned to the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron assists evacuees aboard a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft in support of the Afghanistan evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport on August 21, 2021 in Kabul, Afghanistan. Photo: Taylor Crul/U.S. Air Force via Getty Images

Powerful Photos That Defined the Taliban’s Return in Afghanistan

The Taliban's swift takeover of Kabul following the collapse of the Afghan government last August sparked a humanitarian crisis as thousands attempted to flee.
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VICE World News marks the first anniversary of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, from the devastating consequences that ensued to the millions of lives that were transformed.

It’s been a year since the Taliban completed their lightning-fast reconquest of Afghanistan by capturing Kabul as Western troops withdrew and the Afghan government collapsed.

Huge numbers of Afghans desperately tried to leave the country via Kabul’s international airport in the immediate aftermath, with many people fearing deadly retribution for their work during the 20 years of Western-backed governments.

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The worsening situation at the airport marked some of the most horrifying scenes of the takeover and came to symbolise the failure of decades of Western intervention in Afghanistan.

Outside the airport, terrified parents tried to pass their children over the crowds in an attempt to get them out of the country, while on the runway Afghans scrambled to board cramped evacuation flights and chased cargo planes down the tarmac. 

The tragic takeoff of one of these planes on August 16, a day after the Taliban swept into Kabul, led to several people plunging to their deaths after clinging to the aircraft as it took off from the capital. 

Afghan citizens pack inside a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III, as they are transported from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Afghanistan, August 15, 2021. Photo: Capt. Chris Herbert/U.S. Air Force via AP

Afghan citizens pack inside a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III, as they are transported from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Afghanistan, August 15, 2021. Photo: Capt. Chris Herbert/U.S. Air Force via AP

A Taliban fighter walks past a beauty salon with images of women defaced using spray paint in Shar-e-Naw in Kabul on August 18, 2021. Photo: Wakil Kohsar /AFP via Getty Images

A Taliban fighter walks past a beauty salon with images of women defaced using spray paint in Shar-e-Naw in Kabul on August 18, 2021. Photo: Wakil Kohsar /AFP via Getty Images

A US soldier (C) points his gun towards an Afghan passenger at the Kabul airport in Kabul on August 16, 2021, after a stunningly swift end to Afghanistan's 20-year war, as thousands of people mobbed the city's airport trying to flee the group's feared hardline brand of Islamist rule. Photo: Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images

A US soldier (C) points his gun towards an Afghan passenger at the Kabul airport in Kabul on August 16, 2021, after a stunningly swift end to Afghanistan's 20-year war, as thousands of people mobbed the city's airport trying to flee the group's feared hardline brand of Islamist rule. Photo: Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images

This image made available to AFP on August 20, 2021 by Human Rights Activist Omar Haidari, shows a US Marine grabbing an infant over a fence of barbed wire during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on August 19, 2021. A Pentagon official confirmed Friday that US evacuation operations from Kabul's airport have been stalling because the receiving base in Qatar is overflowing and could not receive evacuees. Photo: Courtesy of Omar Haidiri/AFP via Getty Images

This image made available to AFP on August 20, 2021 by Human Rights Activist Omar Haidari, shows a US Marine grabbing an infant over a fence of barbed wire during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on August 19, 2021. A Pentagon official confirmed Friday that US evacuation operations from Kabul's airport have been stalling because the receiving base in Qatar is overflowing and could not receive evacuees. Photo: Courtesy of Omar Haidiri/AFP via Getty Images

Thousands of Afghans rush to the Hamid Karzai International Airport as they try to flee the Afghan capital of Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 16, 2021. Photo: Haroon Sabawoon/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Thousands of Afghans rush to the Hamid Karzai International Airport as they try to flee the Afghan capital of Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 16, 2021. Photo: Haroon Sabawoon/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Afghans gather on a roadside near the military part of the airport in Kabul on August 20, 2021, hoping to flee from the country after the Taliban's military takeover of Afghanistan. Photo: Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images

Afghans gather on a roadside near the military part of the airport in Kabul on August 20, 2021, hoping to flee from the country after the Taliban's military takeover of Afghanistan. Photo: Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images

Afghan people climb atop a plane as they wait at the Kabul Airport on August 16, 2021. After a stunningly swift end to Afghanistan’s 20-year war, thousands of people mobbed the city’s airport trying to flee the group’s feared hardline brand of Islamist rule. Photo: Wakhil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images

Afghan people climb atop a plane as they wait at the Kabul Airport on August 16, 2021. After a stunningly swift end to Afghanistan’s 20-year war, thousands of people mobbed the city’s airport trying to flee the group’s feared hardline brand of Islamist rule. Photo: Wakhil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images

Afghan refugees crouch in a group as British military secure the perimeter outside the Baron Hotel, near the Abbey Gate, in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 26, 2021. Photo: Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times

Afghan refugees crouch in a group as British military secure the perimeter outside the Baron Hotel, near the Abbey Gate, in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 26, 2021. Photo: Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times

Armed Taliban fighters stand next an Imam during Friday prayers at the Abdul Rahman Mosque in Kabul on August 20, 2021, following the Taliban's stunning takeover of Afghanistan. Photo: Hoshang Hashimi/AFP via Getty Images

Armed Taliban fighters stand next an Imam during Friday prayers at the Abdul Rahman Mosque in Kabul on August 20, 2021, following the Taliban's stunning takeover of Afghanistan. Photo: Hoshang Hashimi/AFP via Getty Images