Taliban fighters entered the outskirts of Kabul on Sunday as panicked workers fled government offices and helicopters began landing at the U.S. Embassy in the Afghan capital, further tightening the militants’ grip on the country. Three Afghan officials told The Associated Press that the fighters were in the districts of Kalakan, Qarabagh and Paghman in the capital. The militants themselves didn’t acknowledge the advance, though they earlier took Jalalabad, near a major border crossing with Pakistan, the last major city other than Kabul not under their control.
The insurgents took control of the key eastern city of Jalalabad on Sunday, just hours after the seizing the northern anti-Taliban bastion of Mazar-i-Sharif — furthering an astonishing rout of government forces and warlord militias achieved in just 10 days.
Taliban fighters on Saturday had captured the key northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif and closed in on Kabul, as US President Joe Biden sent more troops to evacuate American personnel and their allies. Just before residents confirmed the fall of Mazar-i-Sharif, once an anti-Taliban bastion, beleaguered Afghan President Ashraf Ghani addressed the nation, vowing to prevent further bloodshed, despite the rout suffered by Afghan forces over the last 10 days.
But Ghani — who went to Mazar-i-Sharif just days ago to rally his faltering troops — gave no hint in his speech that he would take responsibility for the calamitous military collapse or resign. Kabul has effectively become the besieged last stand for government forces, who have offered little or no resistance elsewhere.
News18 had earlier reported that Taliban have reached a district of Kabul, 10 kms away from the main city, with the United States and other countries scrambling to airlift their nationals to safety ahead of a feared all-out assault.
As a new wave of US military personnel landed to oversee the evacuation of embassy employees and thousands of Afghans who worked for US forces and now fear Taliban reprisals, Biden said more soldiers would follow.
“I have authorized the deployment of approximately 5,000 US troops” to oversee both the evacuations and the final withdrawal of US forces after 20 years on the ground, Biden said after meeting with his national security team. That represented an influx of 1,000 troops, from the roughly 1,000 already on the ground, and 3,000 soldiers ordered in a few days ago, a US defense official said.
In his first address to the nation since the Taliban launched their sweeping offensive, which was recorded, Ghani said he wanted to stop the violence. “I will not let the imposed war on people cause more deaths,” he said, appearing sombre and sitting before an Afghan flag.
Ghani said the armed forces could be “remobilized” and consultations were taking place to try to help end the fighting, but offered few specifics on what his administration was planning. The presidential palace later said “a delegation with authority should soon be appointed by the government and be ready for negotiation”. Further details were not immediately available.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by Kashmir Today staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)