Live updates | Taliban enter Kabul

Taliban militants began their advance across Afghanistan over a week ago. The insurgents’ blitz continued ahead of the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces from the country after two decades of war.

Here are the live updates from today.

The Taliban fighters on Sunday, August 15, 2021, entered the outskirts of Kabul while panicked workers fled government offices and helicopters landed at the U.S. Embassy in the Afghan capital as the militants’ further tightened their grip on the country.

Meanwhile, Taliban fighters were ordered to wait at the gates of Kabul and not enter the city, an insurgent spokesman said, after the complete collapse of the country’s security forces.

“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, although some residents reported insurgents had peacefully entered some outer suburbs.

Three Afghan officials told The Associated Press that the Taliban were in the districts of Kalakan, Qarabagh and Paghman in the capital. The militants later pledged not to take the capital “by force” as sporadic gunfire could be heard in the capital.

The Taliban seized the city of Jalalabad early August 15, cutting off Afghanistan’s increasingly isolated capital Kabul to the east.

The collapse of Jalalabad, which had been the last major city standing besides Kabul, leaves Afghanistan’s central government in control of just the capital and seven other provincial capitals. In a nationwide offensive that has taken just over a week, the Taliban has defeated, co-opted or sent Afghan security forces fleeing from wide swathes of the country, even with some air support by the U.S. military.

Also read: The Hindu Explains | Are the Taliban on the brink of victory?

An Afghan official and the Taliban say the militants have seized the provincial capital of Khost.

That leaves Afghanistan’s central government in control of just Kabul and five other provincial capitals out of the country’s 34.

Albania to shelter Afghans headed for US

Albania’s prime minister says his country will temporarily shelter hundreds of Afghans who worked with the Western peacekeeping military forces and are now threatened by the Taliban.

On his Facebook page, Edi Rama said the U.S. government had asked Albania to serve as a “transit place for a certain number of Afghan political emigrants who have the United States as their final destination.”

Taliban fighters pose on the back of a vehicle in the city of Herat, west of Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021, after they took this province from Afghan government. | Photo Credit: AP

“No doubt we shall not say no,” he said.

He added that the Albanian government has also responded positively to requests from two U.S. NGOs to shelter hundreds of Afghan intellectuals and women activists who have been threatened with execution by the Taliban.

British media are reporting that the U.K.’s ambassador to Afghanistan is to be airlifted out of the country by Monday evening amid fears that the Taliban could seize the airport imminently.

The Foreign Office had intended for Laurie Bristow and a small team of officials to remain at the airport with other international diplomats. But the Sunday Telegraph reported that their departure had been brought forward. The Foreign Office declined comment.

Last week the defense ministry said 600 British troops were being deployed to Kabul to help evacuate some 3,000 British nationals and about 2,000 Afghans who worked with British forces.

On August 14, 2021, the Taliban captured a large, heavily defended city in northern Afghanistan in a major setback for the government.

The fall of Mazar-e-Sharif, the country’s fourth largest city, which Afghan forces and two powerful former warlords had pledged to defend, handed the insurgents control over all of northern Afghanistan.

Afghan President vows to ‘remobilise’ forces

Afghanistan’s beleaguered President vowed on Saturday to prevent further bloodshed, as Taliban fighters closed in on Kabul after routing his armed forces over the past 10 days.

In a recorded address to the nation — his first since the Taliban launched their sweeping offensive — Ashraf Ghani said he wanted to stop the violence “as a historic mission”.

“I will not let the imposed war on people cause more deaths,” he said.

American troops have flown into Kabul to help evacuate embassy personnel and other civilians in the Afghan capital, a U.S. official said on Saturday, a day after Taliban insurgents seized the country’s second- and third-biggest cities.

The Pentagon has said two battalions of Marines and one infantry battalion will arrive in Kabul by Sunday evening, involving about 3,000 troops.

"They have arrived, their arrival will continue ’till tomorrow," the U.S. official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

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