Stunning Pictures Of Afghanistan Like You've Never Seen It Before

Photo: Peretz Partensky

With today’s deadly attack on American forces and the fatal downing of an Black Hawk helicopter, the nation again looks to Afghanistan and the troop withdrawal in 2014.It’s been a long 11 years, and the idea that we know anything more about the country where our military’s fighting is as false as it is frustrating.

With that in mind, we look back at these pictures posted earlier in the year.

Peretz Partensky spent four months taking them while working as part of the Synergy Strike Force in Jalalabad, Afghanistan and wrote about his adventures on jalalagood.com.

As an independent contractor, Partensky traveled freely around Afghanistan with credentials that allowed him access to U.S. Army bases, but he also “had the local garb and faithful friends” to guide him around the interior of the country.

Partensky agreed to share snapshots of his life in Afghanistan with Business Insider and if nothing else, they’re a reminder that Afghanistan is almost impossible to define.

No weapons are allowed in the hospital, but many places have lockers where you can check them in

Kids become comfortable with guns at an early age — here they are with Afghan soldiers, who are guarding a populated intersection in Mazar-i-Sharif during the Persian New Year

During Nowruz, the Persian New Year, soldiers patrolled and slept on the rooftops in the centre of Mazar-i-Sharif

This is the son of a gun shop owner who sells mostly Soviet made shotguns — they're happy to take you behind the counter to show you more if you ask

I bought army boots from this Bush Mar­ket stall — I smelled hashish when we walked in, but I didn't expect the shop ­keeper to take a break from bargaining to toke on an apple core bowl

This rug shop, which accepts American Express, is located in the old quarter of Herat

This beggar in Herat suffers from elephantiasis, which afflicts over 120 million people, primarily in Africa and South-East Asia

You can get a haircut on the street for $1 — this one involved a straight razor

View north from the roof of our home in Jalalabad: green fields, the Kabul river (hidden), golden hills and then the beginning of the Hindu Kush

The guard on the right had just finished trimming his mustache with this razor — Our guards were paid $200 a month, of which $50 went directly to the strongman who had brokered their hire

Our guest house manager, Mehrab said that cotton gin operators were frequently mis-identified as militants with large weapons and were blasted from Soviet helicopters

Instead of an iPod, workers in the field bring their song birds to entertain them through the day

Pre-game prayer huddle — I coached a team from Jalalabad to a national tournament in Kabul

My Afghan translator Haji Najib Bismil, who had grown up as an Afghan orphan in the Soviet Union, goes for a layup at a PRT base

Along the road vendors sell freshly caught Kabul river fish or scavenged mountain flora

View of the hills of Kabul from TV mountain — since Kabul is among the world's highest capitals, the winters are bitter and snowy

Downed Soviet Mi-8 helicopter — decades old war debris is commonplace in the countryside, especially the Panjshir Valley

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