Afghanistan Government Collapses as President Flees, and Taliban Enter Kabul

This is an unfolding humanitarian and human disaster.

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Excerpted from New York Times 8.15.2021

The U.S. military raced to evacuate diplomats and civilians as the insurgents stood poised to retake complete control of the country 20 years after being toppled by American forces.

Afghanistan’s government collapsed on Sunday with President Ashraf Ghani’s flight from the country and the Taliban’s entry into the capital, effectively sealing the insurgents’ control of the country after dozens of cities fell to their lightning advance.

On Sunday evening, former President Hamid Karzai announced on Twitter that he was forming a coordinating council together with Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the Afghan delegation to peace talks, and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the leader of the Hesb-i-Islami party, to manage a peaceful transfer of power. Mr. Karzai called on both government and Taliban forces to act with restraint.

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Credit…Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

As it became clear that members of the Taliban had entered Kabul, the capital, thousands of Afghans who had sought refuge there after fleeing the insurgents’ brutal military offensive watched with growing alarm as the local police seemed to fade from their usual checkpoints. The U.S. Embassy warned Americans to not head to the airport in Kabul after reports that the facility was taking fire, and said that the situation was “changing quickly.”

At 6:30 p.m. local time, the Taliban issued a statement that their forces were moving into police districts in order to maintain security in areas that had been abandoned by the government security forces. Taliban fighters, meeting no resistance, took up positions in parts of the city, after Zabiullah Mujahid, spokesman for the Taliban, posted the statement on Twitter.

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Credit…Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

“The Islamic Emirates ordered its forces to enter the areas of Kabul city from which the enemy has left because there is risk of theft and robbery,” the statement said. The Taliban had been ordered not to harm civilians and not to enter individual homes, it added. “Our forces are entering Kabul city with all caution.”

Top photo – Chinook helicopter hovers over American Embassy