According to sources, Taliban negotiators have moved to the Afghan presidential palace to prepare for a “transfer” of power. After talks between the Afghan government and Taliban negotiators, an interim Taliban-led government was announced. Afghanistan’s new government will supposedly be led by Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.
According to sources, Mullah Baradar entered the presidential palace with the help of Qatar, which has been helping the Taliban and the Afghan government in negotiations, and with the green light from the United States.
After infiltrating the outskirts of Kabul, the Taliban issued a statement saying they have no plans to take the Afghan capital by force. Three Afghan officials told the PA the fighters were in the capital’s Kalakan, Qarabagh and Paghman districts. The Taliban statement came after the Afghan Interior Ministry announced that the Taliban had begun to enter the Afghan capital from all sides.
“The Taliban instructs all their forces to stay at the gates of Kabul, not to try to enter the city. Until the completion of the transition process, the security of the city of Kabul must be maintained. We have no intention of taking revenge on anyone, everyone who served in the military and civilian sectors in the Kabul administration is forgiven and safe. Everyone should stay in their own places and at home and not try to leave the country,” the Taliban said.
Earlier today, Afghanistan’s acting Interior Minister, Abdul Sattar Mirzakwal, also announced that Kabul will not be attacked by the Taliban and that the transition will take place peacefully, according to Tolo News. He assured residents that security forces will ensure the city’s security.
The fall of Mazar-e-Sharif – a heavily defended city on Sunday morning has left the Afghan crisis out of control. With control over Mazar-e-Sharif, the Taliban confined the government led by Ashraf Ghani to the center and east. Given this great influence, the nation failed to protect its capital. The militant group took over all the border posts leading to Kabul, leaving only Kabul airport as the remaining outlet for the war-torn nation. Helicopters were seen landing at the US Embassy in Kabul when diplomatic vehicles began leaving the complex after destroying confidential documents.
On Sunday, Taliban insurgents entered Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, an Interior Ministry official said, as the United States evacuated diplomats from its embassy by helicopter.
The official told Reuters the Taliban were arriving “from all sides”, but gave no further details.
A tweet from the Afghan presidential palace account said gunshots were heard at various points around Kabul, but that security forces, in coordination with international partners, were in control of the city.
US officials said diplomats were being transported to the embassy airport in the fortified Wazir Akbar Khan district. More American troops were being sent to help with evacuations after the Taliban’s lightning advances brought the Islamist group to Kabul in a matter of days.
Last week, a US intelligence estimate said Kabul could hold out for at least three months.
Members of the US “core” team were working at the Kabul airport, a US official said, while a NATO official said several EU officials had moved to a safer, undisclosed location in the capital.
A Taliban official told Reuters the group did not want any casualties upon taking control but did not declare a ceasefire.
There was no immediate word on the plight of President Ashraf Ghani, who said Saturday he was in urgent consultations with local leaders and international partners about the situation.
Earlier on Sunday, insurgents captured the eastern city of Jalalabad without a fight, giving them control of one of the main highways into Afghanistan. They also occupied the Torkham border post with Pakistan, leaving Kabul airport as the only exit from Afghanistan that is still in government hands.
Jalalabad’s capture followed the Taliban’s capture of the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif on Saturday night, also with little fighting.
“There are no clashes going on right now in Jalalabad because the governor has surrendered to the Taliban,” a Jalalabad-based Afghan official told Reuters.
“Allowing passage to the Taliban was the only way to save civilian lives.”
A video clip distributed by the Taliban showed people applauding and shouting Allahu Akbar – God is the greatest – as a convoy of trucks enters the city with fighters brandishing machine guns and the white Taliban flag.
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In the early hours of Sunday, refugees from Taliban-controlled provinces were seen unloading belongings from taxis and families were outside the embassy gates, while the city center was crowded with people stocking up on supplies.
One resident said late Saturday that hundreds of people slept huddled together in tents or outdoors in the city, on the side of roads, or in parking lots. “You can see the fear in their faces,” he said.
Biden said his government had told Taliban officials at talks in Qatar that any action that would put US personnel at risk “will have a swift and strong American military response.”
It has faced mounting internal criticism as the Taliban took over the city much more quickly than anticipated after ending the military mission in the country.
Biden said it was up to the Afghan military to maintain its own territory. “An unending American presence in the midst of another country’s civil conflict was not acceptable to me,” Biden said on Saturday.