In a dramatic government collapse, Afghanistan’s president escapes as the Taliban seize Kabul and prepare to take power.
On Sunday, the Taliban appeared to be on the verge of seizing control of Afghanistan, as militants neared the outskirts of Kabul and said that they were hoping for a “peaceful transfer” of the capital after agreeing not to seize it by force.
Meanwhile, Afghans and foreigners alike rushed for the exit, heralding the end of a 20-year Western experiment to reshape Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, the embattled central government hoped for an interim administration but was running out of options. Civilians rushed to leave the nation, queued up at cash machines to withdraw their life savings, fearful that the Taliban would reimpose the kind of ruthless rule that had all but abolished women’s rights.
According to a BBC reporter, the Taliban issued a statement congratulating themselves on their “win” and stating that they will not invade the Afghan capital.
According to an Afghan official who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation, Taliban negotiators went to the presidential palace to discuss the transfer. It was still unclear when the transfer will take place. Get The Times of Israel’s Daily Edition sent to your inbox every day and never miss a story. Email address for the newsletter You agree to the conditions by signing up.
After the Taliban ordered its fighters to stay out of Kabul, Afghan Interior Minister Abdul Sattar Mirzakwal claimed there would be a “peaceful transfer of power” to a transitional government.
“Afghans should not be concerned… “There will be no attack on the city, and authority will be transferred to the transitional administration in a peaceful manner,” he stated in a recorded speech.
Residents in Kabul, meanwhile, were fleeing in droves, with workers abandoning government offices and helicopters landing outside the US Embassy. Employees at the American University were reportedly destroying documents holding identifying information about students to protect them, according to a Wall Street Journal writer.
The Taliban has stated that their militants will not enter homes or businesses.
They further stated that people who worked with the Afghan government or international forces would be granted “amnesty.”
The militants stated, “The Islamic Emirate guarantees all its inhabitants that it will, as always, protect their lives, property, and honor and build a tranquil and secure environment for its beloved homeland.” “No one should be concerned about their lives in this regard.”
Despite the pledge, people who can afford a ticket have been rushing to Kabul International Airport, which has become the sole option out of the country after the Taliban gained control of the last government-controlled border crossing at Torkham on Sunday.
Pakistan’s Interior Minister, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, told local network Geo TV that after terrorists took the area, Pakistan halted cross-border commerce.
Despite receiving some air backing from the US military, the Taliban have destroyed, coopted, or forced Afghan security forces to evacuate large sections of the country in a remarkable national onslaught that has taken just over a week.
Many people have been surprised by the rapidity of the push, which has sparked questions about why Afghan forces have crumbled after years of US training and billions of dollars spent. Only a few days ago, an American military assessment predicted that the capital would be under rebel attack in a month.
In a video address, Acting Defense Minister Bismillah Khan sought to comfort the population.
“A delegation has been given authority to go to Doha (Qatar) tomorrow to secure a deal on Afghanistan,” he said. “I can tell you that Kabul is safe.”
Jalalabad, Afghanistan’s last major city not controlled by terrorists save the capital, fell to the Taliban on Sunday. Militants posted images of themselves in the governor’s office in Jalalabad, Nangarhar province’s capital, on the internet. A few hours after insurgents captured the nearby city of Jalalabad, rapid shuttle flights of Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopters near the US embassy began.
Diplomatic armored SUVs were observed departing the post’s immediate vicinity. Questions about the movements were not immediately answered by the US State Department.
According to two American military sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to discuss the situation, wisps of smoke could be seen near the embassy’s roof as diplomats hurriedly destroyed vital documents.
The smoke in the neighborhood, which also houses other countries’ embassies, grew thicker over time.
Later, Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, which usually transport armed troops, landed near the embassy.
At least one assault helicopter could be seen flying overhead, launching flares to divert missile fire. The US decided a few days ago to send in tens of thousands of troops to assist with the evacuation of some embassy workers.
According to a pilot who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss security considerations, Afghan forces abandoned the field at Kabul International Airport to Western militaries. The pilot reported an Afghan flight from Kandahar landed at the airport earlier with troops who surrendered to the Taliban despite shrapnel injuries from a mortar bombardment.
According to Bagram district administrator Darwaish Raufi, Afghan forces at Bagram air base, which houses a prison with 5,000 inmates, surrendered to the Taliban. The base’s prison, which was once the country’s largest US military base, housed Taliban and Islamic State fighters.
Thousands of people have taken up residence in parks and open areas throughout Kabul, fearful of a Taliban regime reimposing a cruel rule that has all but destroyed women’s rights. Hundreds of people gathered in front of private banks to withdraw their life savings, causing several ATMs to stop dispensing cash.
Several times, gunfire erupted, however the Afghan government attempted to downplay the incident.
In the midst of the pandemonium, the presidency stated, “The defense and security forces, as well as international troops, are working for the security of Kabul city, and the situation is under control.”
According to Abrarullah Murad, a provincial politician, the insurgents captured Jalalabad after elders negotiated the fall of the administration there. As the city surrendered, Murad reported there was no fighting.
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According to Afghan politician Hamida Akbari and the Taliban, terrorists also stormed Maidan Shar, the capital of Maidan Wardak, on Sunday, around 90 kilometers (55 miles) from Kabul. According to a member of the provincial council who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation, another provincial capital in Khost was also taken over by the Taliban.
The rebels took control of all of northern Afghanistan after the fall Saturday of Mazar-e-Sharif, the country’s fourth largest city, which Afghan soldiers and two prominent former warlords had sworn to defend.