CHILLING ISIS-style "graduation" photos show Taliban fighters posing in what is believed to be stolen US military gear.
The images suggest the group is "no longer a bunch of farmers in sandals" and has risen to become "an actual professional force", it has been claimed.
The photos show the 313 Badri Battalion – al Qaeda's military arm in Pakistan with members including the Taliban and allied jihadist groups – honouring their "newly graduated units".
Masked soldiers dressed in full military get-up and armed with assault rifles lined up in the structured snaps.
They also pose on their knees while brandishing their guns, as well as proudly waving the Taliban flag.
The images echo those previously released by ISIS showing newly graduated jihadis waving the black and white ISIS banner during a parade.
Zaid Hamid, a Soviet-Afghan war veteran, said the Taliban photos, released on July 28, showed they had "gone one step further" than stealing from Soviet forces between 1979 and 1989.
He said: "When I was part of Afghan Mujahideen, we defeated the Soviet Union using the Soviet weapons, either snatched from the Soviet army or given to us by our allies.
"But Afghan Taliban have gone a step further. They only snatched from the Americans and the Afghan army."
He added: "From a rag tag militia of shepherds, farmers and shopkeepers, Afghan Taliban have really come of age.
"Indians fear that very soon they will find them in Indian-occupied Kashmir too."
A member on the Pakistan Defence website commented: "No longer a bunch of farmers in sandals.
"They have become an actual professional paramilitary force."
And another said the Taliban looked "better equipped" than the Pakistan Army Special Service Group.
The photos were made public as the Taliban continues to terrorise Afghanistan, claiming control of an estimated 85 per cent of the country.
Forces have surged in recent weeks, capturing dozens of districts and key border regions from the faltering Afghan security forces and military.
Refugees have been fleeing to borders to escape as the brutal terror group sweeps across the country.
In the last few days, dozens of civilians have been dragged from their homes and executed by the Taliban as they pursue Kandahar.
Nazar Mohammad, a popular comedian, was among those killed as tens of thousands of fled Afghanistan’s second city, it has been reported.
The Taliban denied being involved in his murder but his family have accused the terrorist group.
The US and NATO last week issued an open letter to the Taliban urging them to end their reign of terror as troops are withdrawn from Afghanistan.
It came as the United Nations said it “vehemently condemns” the extremist group's actions which in recent weeks – leading to the deaths of innocent civilians.
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