A number of high-ranking Afghan officials, including some of President Ashraf Ghani’s advisors, arrived at the VIP lounge of the airport and were waiting for a flight out of Kabul, a source at the Hamid Karzai international airport said.
Latest Updates: Taliban fighters enter outskirts of Kabul, negotiations underway
US Pulling Out All Personnel From Kabul Embassy In Next 72 Hours
The US is completely pulling out all personnel from the embassy in Kabul over the next 72 hours, including the top officials.
According to sources, it is a situation that many State Department security officials expected would have to happen as Taliban gains accelerated in recent days.
Most of the diplomats will go to the airport in Kabul and then fly back to America.
Qalat Becomes 25th Provincial Capital To Fall To Taliban
Multiple videos from the city of Qalat appear to show the Taliban in control of the city whilst the Taliban’s white flag flying in several locations.
A local journalist told that the Taliban had entered the city.
There has been no word from the government or any provincial official on the city’s status.
Taliban Say They Will Not Take Kabul “By Force”
The Afghan Taliban fighters have arrived at Kabul’s surrounding areas but have not yet entered the city, confirmed the authorities on Sunday.
The Taliban, however, announced that they did not intend to take the city via force.
“Negotiations are underway to ensure that the transition process is completed safely and securely, without compromising the lives, property and honour of anyone, and without compromising the lives of Kabulis,” it said.
“The Islamic Emirate instructs all its forces to stand at the gates of Kabul, not to try to enter the city,” a spokesman for the Taliban tweeted.
— Zabihullah (..ذبـــــیح الله م ) (@Zabehulah_M33) August 15, 2021
Taliban Seized Jalalabad
The Taliban have moved closer to take over Afghanistan, with the capital Kabul now the only major city left in government hands.
On Sunday the militants took control of Jalalabad, a key eastern city, without any battle.
It followed the seizure of the government’s northern bastion of Mazar-i-Sharif just a day earlier.
President Ashraf Ghani Under Pressure To Step Down
The speedy downfall of the Afghan government forces has left President Ashraf Ghani under growing pressure to resign.
He appears to face a stark choice between surrender or a fight to hold the capital.
Helicopters Begin Landing On US Embassy For Evacuation
Meanwhile, the US has begun evacuating members of staff from its embassy in Kabul. On Sunday morning they were being taken to the airport where they have been seen boarding six large military transport planes. The US has deployed 5,000 troops to help with the operation.
Taliban negotiators To Discuss Transfer of Power
Taliban negotiators headed to the presidential palace on Sunday to discuss the transfer, said an Afghan official.
The negotiators on the government side included former President Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah, the head of the Afghan National Reconciliation Council, an official said.
Abdullah has long been a vocal critic of President Ashraf Ghani, who has rejected to give up power to get a deal with the Taliban.
The official disclosing details of the closed-doors negotiations, described them as “tense.”
Pakistan Shuts Torkham Border After Taliban Seize Border Crossing
The Pakistan government has Sunday ordered to shut the Torkham border with Afghanistan after Taliban fighters took over control of the border posts in Afghan territory.
Reports said that the rebels took positions on the posts after Afghan border forces laid down their arms before them.
‘Remobilisation Of Armed Forces Top Priority”: Ghani
On Saturday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani addressed his nation, saying he had “initiated consultations” with elders, political figures, ethnic leaders and international partners.
“In the current situation, the remobilisation of our security and defence forces is our top priority, and serious steps are being taken in this regard,” he said in a televised speech.
He gave no hint he would resign or take responsibility for the current situation, but said “consultations” were taking place to try and end the war.
“As a historic mission, I will not let the imposed war on people cause more deaths,” he said.
“Therefore, I have started extensive consultations inside the government with the elders, political leaders, representatives of people, and international partners on achieving a reasonable and certain political solution in which the peace and stability of the people of Afghanistan are envisaged.”
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