Taliban takeover of Afghanistan

October 20, 2021 | 6:00pm
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Taliban takeover of Afghanistan
2 days ago

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recognizes Taliban "efforts" to try and stabilize the situation in volatile Afghanistan as Moscow hosted the Islamist regime for international talks. 

"A new administration is in power now," Lavrov tells the gathering. "We note their efforts to stabilize the military and political situation and set up work of the state apparatus." — AFP

3 days ago

Zalmay Khalilzad, the veteran US envoy whose months of diplomacy failed to prevent the Taliban from taking power in Afghanistan, resigned on Monday.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Khalilzad's departure, saying that the envoy's deputy, Thomas West, would take over. — AFP

October 14, 2021

Russian President Vladimir Putin says Wednesday that battle-hardened militants from Iraq and Syria are "actively" entering Afghanistan.

"The situation in Afghanistan is not easy," Putin says during a video conference with security service chiefs of ex-Soviet states. 

"Militants from Iraq, Syria with experience in military operations are actively being drawn there," he says. — AFP

October 12, 2021

The Taliban held their first face-to-face talks with a joint US-EU delegation Tuesday in Qatar as Brussels pledged one billion euros ($1.2 billion) in aid for Afghanistan.

The hardline Islamists are seeking recognition, as well as assistance to avoid a humanitarian disaster, after they returned to power in August following the withdrawal of US troops after 20 years of war.

UN chief Antonio Guterres earlier urged the world to donate to drought-hit and impoverished Afghanistan to head off economic collapse, but also slammed the Taliban's "broken" promises to Afghan women and girls.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced the EU aid package, meant "to avert a major humanitarian and socio-economic collapse", at a virtual G20 summit hosted by Italy on Tuesday. — AFP

October 12, 2021

A flight carrying 84 Afghans — people who worked for the Spanish forces and their families — arrived in Madrid on Monday, after being evacuated via Pakistan.

The military plane landed at the Torrejon de Ardoz airbase near Madrid at 9:00 pm (1900 GMT) on schedule, a government statement said.

The defence, foreign and migration ministers were at the airport to meet them.

The 84 passengers comprised 14 people who had worked for the Spanish force in Afghanistan and their families, TVE television reported. — AFP

October 11, 2021

The United States and Britain warned their citizens on Monday to stay away from hotels in the Afghan capital Kabul, particularly the well-known Serena.

"US citizens who are at or near the Serena Hotel should leave immediately," the US State Department said, citing "security threats" in the area.

In an update to its advice not to travel to Afghanistan, the UK Foreign Office said: "In light of the increased risks you are advised not to stay in hotels, particularly in Kabul (such as the Serena Hotel)." — AFP

October 10, 2021

The Taliban warns the United States not to "destabilize" the regime during their first face-to-face talks since the US withdrawal, its foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi said on Saturday.

Muttaqi's comments come as the Taliban attempt to re-establish their rule in Afghanistan, 20 years after the hardline Islamists were driven out by the US-led invasion.

"We clearly told them that trying to destabilise the government in Afghanistan is good for no one," Muttaqi tells the Afghan state news agency Bakhtar after talks in the Qatari capital, Doha. — AFP

October 9, 2021

The United States and the Taliban will hold their first in-person talks since the US withdrawal from Afghanistan starting Saturday, the State Department says.

The US delegation will meet Saturday and Sunday in the Qatari capital Doha with senior Taliban representatives, a State Department spokesperson says.

The United States has remained in contact with the Taliban since the longtime foes seized Kabul in August as US troops pulled out but the meeting will be the first that is face to face. — AFP

October 8, 2021

The European Union wins its battle at the UN Human Rights Council to create a new special rapporteur on Afghanistan, despite opposition from China, Russia and Pakistan.

The rapporteur will be responsible for monitoring the rights situation in the country following the Taliban takeover, and will make recommendations on improvements.

"This is an essential step to ensure continued monitoring, through a dedicated and independent expert, and to help prevent a further deterioration of the human rights situation in Afghanistan," says Lotte Knudsen, the EU's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva.

"The rights of women and girls are of particular concern to us. The actions of the Taliban directed against women and girls and the violation of their rights is highly worrying." — AFP

October 7, 2021

Afghanistan's humanitarian crisis is growing alarmingly worse, a top UN official warned Wednesday, calling on the international community to do more to help the war-torn nation.

"It's the first time I've seen a crisis like this escalate and accelerate at the pace and scale that it is," Mary-Ellen McGroarty, the World Food Program's Country Director for Afghanistan, told reporters in New York during a video press conference.

Before the Taliban seized power in mid-August, Afghanistan already "had a humanitarian crisis of incredible proportions," affecting some 18 million people, McGroarty said. "It's just escalating and getting worse." — AFP

October 5, 2021

Girls have returned to some secondary schools in a northern province of Afghanistan, Taliban officials and teachers said Tuesday, but they remain barred from classrooms in much of the country.

The new hardline government also announced at a stage-managed rally that some women civil servants have been called back to work and a backlog of salaries would be paid, signs the Islamists may be trying to soften their public image after 50 days in power. 

A video posted by the group's spokesman Suhail Shaheen showed dozens of schoolgirls in black, some wearing white head scarves and others with black face veils, sat in chairs waving Taliban flags.

"Girls are going to high schools in Khan Abad, Kunduz Province," tweeted Doha-based Shaheen, who has been nominated as the new Afghan government's permanent representative to the United Nations.

But in Kabul, education ministry official Mohammad Abid said there had been no policy change from the Taliban's interim central government, telling AFP on Tuesday: "High schools still remain closed for girls." — AFP

October 3, 2021

More than 1,500 Taliban supporters attended a rally on Sunday in a vast field to the north of Kabul, in a show of strength as they consolidate their rule of Afghanistan.

The crowd, exclusively men and boys, heard speeches by leading Taliban officials and commanders at Kohdaman township in the hilly outskirts of the capital.

The rally was the first of its kind in the capital since the Islamist group seized control of the country seven weeks ago following a lightning offensive.

Flanked by white and black Taliban standards and fighters in combat gear carrying assault rifles, the speakers addressed an audience sat in rows of chairs under awnings. 

As the event went on, more and more supporters arrived, leaving several hundred sitting to watch from chairs in the midday sun. — AFP

September 30, 2021

Qatar's top diplomat on Thursday labelled a recent string of rights abuses in Afghanistan "disappointing" and called on the Taliban leadership to look to Doha for how to run an Islamic system.

The Taliban publicly strung up four alleged kidnappers from cranes in Herat last week and older girls are still unable to resume their studies after weeks.

"The recent actions that we have seen unfortunately in Afghanistan, it has been very disappointing to see some steps being taken backward," Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said at a media briefing in Doha.

Doha has become a key broker in Afghanistan following last month's withdrawal of US forces, helping to evacuate thousands of foreigners and Afghans, engaging the new Taliban rulers and supporting operations at Kabul airport.

"We need to keep engaging them and urging them not to take such actions, and we have also been trying to demonstrate for the Taliban how Muslim countries can conduct their laws, how they can deal with the women's issues," said Sheikh Mohammed. — AFP

September 29, 2021

Top US generals say that they advised keeping American troops in Afghanistan to bolster the Afghan government and expressed concern that the Taliban has not severed ties with Al-Qaeda.

"I think that our credibility with allies and partners around the world and with adversaries is being intensely reviewed by them to see which way this is going to go and I think 'damage' is one word that could be used, yes," General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff tells the Senate.

Milley says the Taliban "was and remains a terrorist organization and they still have not broken ties with Al-Qaeda," which used Afghanistan as a base to plot the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington. — AFP

September 28, 2021

The International Criminal Court's new prosecutor says he would focus on the Taliban and Islamic State-Khorasan's actions in Afghanistan instead of alleged US crimes. 

Karim Khan asked judges to relaunch the court's probe into Afghanistan, which was paused last year at Kabul's request, saying the Taliban's takeover meant war crimes would no longer be investigated properly.

But rights defenders reacted with fury after Khan, who took office in June with a vow to reform the ICC, announced that he would "deprioritise" the investigation into American forces and concentrate on Islamist groups. — AFP

September 26, 2021

After seeing photos of black-clad Afghan women in full face veils at a pro-Taliban rally in Kabul, Bahar Jalali, an Afghan-American historian, launched a campaign highlighting the vibrant colors of traditional Afghan dresses.

"I was very concerned that the world would think that those clothing worn by those women in Kabul was traditional Afghan clothing, and I don't want our heritage and culture to be misrepresented," said Jalali, who lives in Glenwood, Maryland, about an hour's drive from Washington.

Jalali, 56, created the social media hashtags #DoNotTouchMyClothes and #AfghanistanCulture, which quickly became popular, with women posting photos of themselves wearing colorful, embroidered Afghan clothing and smiling for the camera.

"Afghan women don't wear hijab," Jalali told AFP. 

"We wear a loose chiffon headscarf that reveals the hair. And anybody who's familiar with Afghanistan history, culture, knows that the clothing worn by those women have never been seen before in Afghanistan," she said, referring to demonstrators at the pro-Taliban protest at a university lecture in Kabul earlier this month. — AFP

September 25, 2021

Prime Minister Narendra Modi raises concerns about Pakistan during talks with US President Joe Biden as well as a broader four-way summit with the leaders of Australia and Japan, according to Indian officials, who said the others concurred.

"There was a clear sense that a more careful look and a more careful examination and monitoring of Pakistan's role in Afghanistan -- Pakistan's role on the issue of terrorism -- had to be kept," Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla told reporters after the White House talks.

Khan, addressing the UN General Assembly, said that the Taliban have promised to respect human rights and build an inclusive government since taking over last month, despite global disappointment in a caretaker cabinet. — AFP

September 25, 2021

The United States announces two exemptions to its sanctions imposed on Afghanistan in a bid to facilitate the entry of humanitarian aid into the conflict-wracked, Taliban-controlled country.

The provisions allow the US government, aid groups and international organizations "to engage in the provision of humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan or other activities that support basic human needs" there, the US Treasury said in a statement.

They also allow "certain transactions related to the exportation or reexportation of agricultural commodities, medicine, and medical devices," the statement says. — AFP

September 24, 2021

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says Thursday he believed the world was united on pressing the Taliban after speaking with Pakistan, China and Russia, key players with Afghanistan's new rulers.

"I think there is very strong unity of approach and unity of purpose," Blinken tells reporters.

"The Taliban says that it seeks legitimacy, that it seeks support, from the international community. The relationship that it has with the international community is going to be defined by the actions it takes." — AFP

September 23, 2021

The five permanent Security Council members are united on seeking a stable Afghanistan, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says Wednesday after talks among foreign ministers following the Taliban takeover.

All five powers want "a peaceful and stable Afghanistan where humanitarian aid can be distributed without problems and without discrimination," Guterres tells reporters after the meeting during the annual General Assembly.

They seek "an Afghanistan where the rights of women and girl are respected, an Afghanistan that is not a sanctuary for terrorism, an Afghanistan with an inclusive government representing all sections of the population," he says. — AFP

September 22, 2021

The UN released emergency funds on Wednesday to help prevent Afghanistan's battered healthcare system from collapsing, with the WHO chief warning of an imminent catastrophe.

UN aid chief Martin Griffiths said he had released $45 million,  warning in a statement that "medicines, medical supplies and fuel are running out in Afghanistan".

"Cold chains are compromised. Essential health-care workers are not being paid," he said.

Afghanistan's healthcare system was plunged into crisis after the Taliban swept into power last month, complicating aid deliveries and leaving many health facilities understaffed.  -- AFP

September 21, 2021

Girls in Afghanistan will be allowed to return to school as soon as possible, the Taliban said Tuesday, after announcing the remaining positions in its all-male cabinet.

"We are finalising things... it will happen as soon as possible," spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on girls' education.

It comes after the education ministry ordered male teachers and students back to secondary school at the weekend, but made no mention of the country's women educators and girl pupils. — AFP

September 20, 2021

Four Afghan refugees, members of the country's robotics team who fled to Mexico after the Taliban's takeover of Kabul last month, participated Sunday in a bike parade in the capital organized to welcome the women.

"First of all, we want to thank Mexico government for making all these facilities for us," one of the team members, whose name is being withheld for security reasons, told AFP.

The group, made up of five team members and one of their partners, were the first Afghan refugees to arrive in Mexico after the Taliban retook the country from the American-backed government after 20 years last month. — AFP

September 17, 2021

Dutch Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag resigns on Thursday after parliament formally condemned her handling of the Afghanistan evacuation crisis.

"The House considers that the government has acted irresponsibly," Kaag says in a statement to parliament after parliament voted by 78 votes to 72 to condemn her.

"And although I stand by our commitment, I can only accept the consequences of this judgement as the minister with ultimate responsibility," she adds. — AFP

September 14, 2021

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Monday on Pakistan to deny legitimacy to the Taliban unless they meet international demands, acknowledging concerns that Islamabad has supported militants from Afghanistan.

Testifying before Congress on the Taliban victory in Afghanistan, Blinken heard from lawmakers across party lines who pushed for a harder line on Pakistan, an uneasy partner of Washington over the 20-year war.

"What we have to look at is an insistence that every country, to include Pakistan, make good on the expectations that the international community has of what is required of a Taliban-led government if it's to receive any legitimacy of any kind or any support," Blinken told the House Foreign Affairs Committee. — AFP

September 12, 2021

Afghan police at Kabul airport have returned to work manning checkpoints alongside Taliban security for the first time since the Islamists seized power, officers said Sunday.

When the Taliban swept into Kabul last month ousting the government, police abandoned their posts, fearful of what the Islamists would do.

But two officers said they had returned to work Saturday after receiving calls from Taliban commanders.

On Sunday, an AFP correspondent at the airport saw border police members deployed at several checkpoints outside the main buildings of the airport, including the domestic terminal.

"I came back to work yesterday more than two weeks after being sent home," one of the police force members told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity. — AFP

September 11, 2021

A second charter flight leaves Afghanistan carrying foreigners and Afghans in a sign the country's main airport was close to resuming commercial operations, as the United Nations warns of "credible allegations" of reprisal killings by the Taliban. 

The plane departed for Qatar the day after just over 100 passengers, including some Americans, left Kabul airport on the first flight carrying foreigners out of the Afghan capital since a US-led evacuation ended on August 30.

Another 32 US citizens or permanent residents left Afghanistan with Washington's support on Friday, either on the Qatar Airways flight or by land, National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said. — AFP

September 11, 2021

A video analysis shows the United States may have mistakenly targeted an aid worker rather than Islamic State fighters in its final strike in Afghanistan which killed 10 civilians, The New York Times says.

The Pentagon has said it disrupted a new attack planned by the Islamic State extremist group through a Reaper drone strike on August 29 -- the day before US troops ended their 20-year mission and following a devastating attack outside the airport where vast crowds rushed to leave the victorious Taliban.

But Kabul resident Aimal Ahmadi earlier told AFP that the strike killed 10 civilians including his small daughter, nephews, nieces and his brother Ezmarai Ahmadi, who was driving the car that was struck after he parked. — AFP

September 10, 2021

The Taliban have carried out reprisal killings since their victory despite their promises of amnesty, the UN envoy on Afghanistan, Deborah Lyons, tells the Security Council on Thursday.

"We are also concerned that despite the many statements granting general amnesties to ANDSF personnel and those who have worked as civil servants, there have been credible allegations of reprisal killings of ANDSF personnel and the detention of officials who worked for previous administrations," she says, referring to the collapsed Western-backed Afghan National Defense and Security Forces. — AFP

September 8, 2021

The Taliban show "pragmatism" and should be judged on their actions, a top Qatari official told AFP in an exclusive interview, adding there was "no question" the Islamists were Afghanistan's de facto rulers.

"They have shown a great deal of pragmatism. Let's seize the opportunities there... and look at their public actions," said Assistant Foreign Minister Lolwah al-Khater, who stopped short of announcing formal recognition of Afghanistan's new rulers.

"They are the de facto rulers, no question about that." — AFP

September 7, 2021

The Taliban claims total control over Afghanistan, saying they had won the key battle for the Panjshir Valley, the last remaining holdout of resistance against their rule.

Following their lightning-fast victory in mid-August over the former Afghan government's security forces and the withdrawal of US troops after 20 years of war, the Taliban turned to fighting the forces defending the mountainous Panjshir Valley.

As the Islamist hardliners claimed victory, their chief spokesman warned against any further attempts to rise up against their rule while urging former members of the security forces to join their regime's ranks. — AFP

September 6, 2021

The Taliban said Monday they had captured the last pocket of resistance in Afghanistan, the Panjshir Valley, even as opposition fighters vowed to keep up their struggle against the hardline Islamists.

Following their lightning-fast rout of Afghanistan's army last month and celebrations when the last US troops flew out after 20 years of war, the Taliban turned to fight the forces defending the mountainous Panjshir Valley.

"With this victory, our country is completely taken out of the quagmire of war," chief spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said. -- AFP

September 6, 2021

Resistance forces holed up in Afghanistan's Panjshir Valley against the Taliban have called for a ceasefire, a statement from their leaders said, after reports they had suffered heavy losses at the weekend.

The National Resistance Front (NRF) said late Sunday it "proposes that the Taliban stop its military operations in Panjshir... and withdraw its forces. In return, we will direct our forces to refrain from military action."

In a separate tweet late Sunday, the NRF said spokesman Fahim Dashty — a well-known Afghan journalist — and General Abdul Wudod Zara had been killed in the latest fighting. — AFP

September 6, 2021

The Taliban on Sunday pledges to guarantee the safety of humanitarian workers and aid access in Afghanistan in a meeting with the UN humanitarian chief in Kabul, a UN spokesman said. 

Martin Griffiths was in the Afghan capital on Sunday for several days of meetings with Taliban leadership amid a looming humanitarian disaster in the country newly under the control of the hardline Islamists. 

"The authorities pledged that the safety and security of humanitarian staff, and humanitarian access to people in need, will be guaranteed and that humanitarian workers — both men and women — will be guaranteed freedom of movement," a statement from UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric says. — AFP

September 5, 2021

Afghanistan will "likely" erupt in civil war, the top US general told US media Saturday, warning that those conditions could see a resurgence of terrorist groups in the country.

As American forces began their withdrawal, the Taliban took over Afghanistan in a lightning campaign, with only the northern province Panjshir holding out against the hardline Islamists.

"My military estimate... is that the conditions are likely to develop of a civil war," General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Fox News.

He questioned whether the Taliban —  who are yet to declare a government —  would be able to consolidate power and establish effective governance.

"I think there's at least a very good probability of a broader civil war and that will then in turn lead to conditions that could, in fact, lead to a reconstitution of Al-Qaeda or a growth of ISIS or other... terrorist groups," Milley said. — AFP

September 4, 2021

Fresh fighting happens Saturday between the Taliban and resistance forces in Afghanistan's Panjshir Valley, even as the hardline Islamists finalize a new government that will set the tone for their rule.

Facing the challenge of morphing from insurgents to rulers, the Taliban appear determined to snuff out the Panjshir resistance before announcing who will lead the country in the aftermath of Monday's US troop withdrawal, which was supposed to end two decades of war.

But Panjshir, which held out for nearly a decade against the Soviet Union's occupation and also the Taliban's first rule from 1996-2001, is stubbornly holding out. — AFP

September 4, 2021

The Taliban are due to form a government within days despite fighting in Afghanistan's Panjshir Valley where forces battling the hardline Islamists say they are enduring "heavy" assaults.

The Islamists face the enormous challenge of shifting gears from insurgent group to governing power, days after the United States fully withdrew its troops and ended two decades of war.

But they are still battling to extinguish the last flame of resistance in the Panjshir Valley, which held out for a decade against the Soviet Union's occupation and also the Taliban's first rule from 1996-2001. — AFP

September 3, 2021

The Taliban are expected to form a government as early as Friday with the new regime under intense international scrutiny over its vow to rule Afghanistan with greater tolerance, especially on women's rights.

The announcement of a new administration could be made after Friday afternoon prayers, two Taliban sources told AFP, as the Islamists shift gears from insurgent group to governing power, days after the United States fully withdrew its troops and ended two decades of war.

While the West has adopted a wait-and-see approach to the Taliban, there were some signs of engagement with the new leaders gathering pace. — AFP

September 2, 2021

Qatar is working with the Taliban to reopen Kabul's airport as soon as possible, its foreign minister says, urging the hardline Islamists to allow Afghans to leave.

The airport, the scene of a frenzied evacuation which ended with the US troop withdrawal on Tuesday, is out of operation with much of its infrastructure destroyed or degraded.

"We are working very hard (and) we remain hopeful that we will be able to operate it as soon as possible," says Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani. — AFP

September 2, 2021

The Taliban parades some of the military hardware they captured during their takeover of Afghanistan, as a team from Qatar landed at the trashed airport in Kabul -- a first step towards getting the facility back up and running as a lifeline for aid.

The Qatar Airways flight, the first to land in Kabul since the US withdrew from Afghanistan Monday, brought a team of technical experts to work on the airport, a source close to the matter told AFP.

The goal was to resume flights for aid, after the United Nations warned of a looming "humanitarian catastrophe" in war-ravaged Afghanistan, and to provide a way out for those wanting to flee the new regime. — AFP

September 1, 2021

Qatar urges the Taliban to ensure "safe passage" for people still wanting to leave Afghanistan after the chaotic US-led evacuations came to an end.

More than 123,000 foreign nationals and Afghans fled the country in a frenzied airlift operation that wound up on Tuesday, but many more are desperate to depart.

"We stress on the Taliban the issue of freedom of movement and that there be safe passage for people to leave and enter if they so wish," Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani tells a press conference after a meeting with his Dutch counterpart, Sigrid Kaag. — AFP

September 1, 2021

Britain has opened talks with the Taliban over the "safe passage" of its remaining nationals and allies out of Afghanistan after the hardline Islamist group's quickfire takeover of the country last month.

The British government confirmed to AFP it has dispatched senior civil servant Simon Gass to meet with Taliban representatives in Doha.

Much of the group's senior leadership lived in exile in the Qatari capital until the overthrow of Afghanistan's Western-backed government after 20 years of war. — AFP

September 1, 2021

The Pentagon denies Tuesday that US military personnel abandoned some of their dogs at Kabul airport during Washington's final pullout from Afghanistan.

"To correct erroneous reports, the US military did not leave any dogs in cages at Hamid Karzai International Airport, including the reported military working dogs," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby tweets. 

Photographs posted on social media showed dogs in an Afghan animal shelter and not animals under the responsibility of the US military, Kirby adds on Twitter. — AFP

September 1, 2021

The choice for the United States in Afghanistan was either to withdraw from the country or escalate the conflict, President Joe Biden says Tuesday after the final US pullout.

"That was the choice: between leaving or escalating. I was not going to extend this forever war, and I was not extending a forever exit," Biden says. — AFP

August 31, 2021

The United States expects the Taliban to live up to their commitments now that US troops have pulled out of Afghanistan, but any legitimacy or support will need to be "earned," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says.

America's top diplomat, speaking just hours after the final US evacuation flights left Kabul, said Washington has suspended its diplomatic presence in Kabul as of Monday and shifted its operations to Qatar.

"Our troops have departed Afghanistan," Blinken says. "A new chapter of America's engagement with Afghanistan has begun. — AFP

August 31, 2021

The United States expects the Taliban to live up to their commitments now that US troops have pulled out of Afghanistan, but any legitimacy or support will need to be "earned," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday.

America's top diplomat, speaking just hours after the final US evacuation flights left Kabul, said Washington has suspended its diplomatic presence in Kabul as of Monday and shifted its operations to Qatar.

"Our troops have departed Afghanistan," Blinken said. "A new chapter of America's engagement with Afghanistan has begun. — AFP

August 31, 2021

A senior Taliban official said Tuesday the Taliban had "made history", as celebratory gunfire was heard across the Afghan capital after the last US troops pulled out.

"We made history again. The 20-year occupation of Afghanistan by the United States and NATO ended tonight," said Anas Haqqani, a senior official in the hardline Islamist movement, in a tweet. "I am very happy that after 20 years of jihad, sacrifices & hardships I have this pride to see these historic moments." — AFP

August 31, 2021

The United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution Monday calling on the Taliban to honor its pledges to allow Afghans and foreign nationals "safe" departure from Afghanistan.

The 15-member Council passed the resolution with 13 votes in favor and two abstentions, from China and Russia. — AFP

August 30, 2021

US President Joe Biden has been briefed on the rocket attack at Kabul airport and "operations continue uninterrupted," his press secretary Jen Psaki said early Monday.

"The president was informed that operations continue uninterrupted at (Kabul airport) HKIA, and has reconfirmed his order that commanders redouble their efforts to prioritize doing whatever is necessary to protect our forces on the ground," Psaki said in a statement. — AFP

August 30, 2021

Several rockets were heard flying over the Afghan capital by AFP staff Monday morning, a day after the US said it had destroyed a potential car bomb with an air strike.

It was not immediately clear where the rockets landed or what the targets were, but it comes as the US is due to withdraw the last of its troops by late Tuesday. — AFP

August 30, 2021

Foreign ministers from several countries will meet virtually Monday to discuss their next steps in Afghanistan, the US State Department says, as the airlift evacuation out of the country enters its final days.

The United States will host the meeting of "key partners," the State Department says Sunday, with the summit coming one day before US military forces are set to withdraw from Afghanistan following 20 years of war and slightly more than two weeks after the Taliban swept back to power.

Representatives from Canada, France, Germany, Italy,?Japan, the United Kingdom, Turkey, Qatar, the European Union and NATO are set to participate, the State Department says. — AFP

August 29, 2021

The United States warned Saturday of a "specific, credible threat" near Kabul airport and urged its citizens to leave the area, days after a deadly attack on crowds fleeing Taliban rule in Afghanistan.

A series of urgent terror warnings have rattled evacuation efforts overseen by US forces, who have been forced into closer security cooperation with the Taliban to prevent a repeat of Thursday's carnage at one of the facility's main access gates.

"Due to a specific, credible threat, all US citizens in the vicinity of Kabul airport... should leave the airport area immediately," the US Embassy in Kabul said in a security alert.

In its alert, the embassy noted the threat to "the South (Airport Circle) gate, the new Ministry of the Interior (gate), and the gate near the Panjshir Petrol station on the northwest side of the airport."  — AFP

August 28, 2021

The US military says it had carried out a drone strike against a "planner" of the Islamic State-Khorasan, the group which claimed credit for the deadly suicide bombing at Kabul airport.

"The unmanned airstrike occurred in the Nangarhar Province of Afghanistan. Initial indications are that we killed the target," says Captain Bill Urban of the Central Command.

"We know of no civilian casualties," he adds in a statement annoucing the first reported US strike since the attack. — AFP

August 27, 2021

The death toll from two blasts at Kabul's airport has risen to 72, two officials who worked in the ministry of health until the Taliban takeover tell AFP on Friday.

"There are many women and children among the victims. Most of the wounded people are in trauma and shock," one of the former officials says, adding the toll only accounted for those taken to city hospitals.

August 27, 2021

Australia says Friday it pulled all its troops out of Afghanistan on the eve of the Kabul airport bombings after receiving "very clear intelligence" of an impending attack.

Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton says the Australian authorities had sent warnings in text messages on Thursday to Australian citizens and those in the area of the attack.

"There was very clear intelligence that ISKP intended to strike and strike hard, and they have done that,” he tells Nine Network television, referring to an Islamic State-affiliated group active in parts of south and central Asia. — AFP

August 27, 2021

The White House says more than 100,000 people from Afghanistan have been evacuated since August 14, the eve of the Taliban's return to power.

"Since August 14, the US has evacuated and facilitated the evacuation of approximately 100,100 people," the White House says in a statement issued hours after Islamic State suicide bombers killed dozens, including 13 US troops, as they attacked crowds gathered outside Kabul airport hoping to flee.

The announcement came as the August 31 deadline looms for the United States to withdraw its troops, and for it and other Western countries to end their massive airlift. — AFP

August 27, 2021

The US Defense Department says that the number of American troops killed in the suicide bombings at Kabul airport rose by one to 13, and the number of wounded was 18.

"A thirteenth US service member has died from his wounds suffered as a result of the attack on Abbey Gate," Central Command spokesman Captain Bill Urban says in a statement.

Ten of those killed and several wounded were US Marines, Marine Corps spokesman Major Jim Stenger says in a statement. — AFP

August 27, 2021

US President Joe Biden says he has seen no evidence that the Taliban colluded with Islamic State militants in carrying out the deadly attacks in Kabul.

"There is no evidence thus far that I've been given as a consequence by any of the commanders in the field that there has been collusion between the Taliban and ISIS in carrying out what happened today," Biden says in an address at the White House. — AFP

August 27, 2021

President Joe Biden vows that the United States will not be deterred from its mission to evacuate thousands of civilians from Afghanistan despite the deadly suicide attack on Kabul airport.

"We will not be deterred by terrorists. We will not let them stop our mission. We will continue the evacuation," Biden says in a televised address. — AFP

August 26, 2021

Canada said Thursday it had ended its evacuation operations in Afghanistan, where foreign governments are rushing to airlift citizens and Afghan allies in the wake of a Taliban takeover and ahead of an August 31 deadline.

"Over the last day, our evacuation operations have ceased," Canadian defense ministry representative Lieutenant-General Wayne Eyre told a press conference.

"We wish we could have stayed longer and rescued everyone who was so desperate to leave, that we could not is truly heartbreaking, but the circumstances on the ground, rapidly deteriorated," he added. — AFP

August 26, 2021

The United Arab Emirates has helped evacuate 28,000 people from Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover of Kabul, a senior Emirati official says.

The UAE and Qatar have been instrumental staging posts for evacuation flights for Western countries' citizens as well as Afghan interpreters, journalists and others.

Western countries including Britain, France and the US are scrambling to get the last of their citizens and protected Afghans out while Poland and the Netherlands are wrapping up their operations. — AFP

August 25, 2021

A flight carrying Afghan evacuees fleeing the Taliban takeover of their country touched down early Wednesday in Uganda where they will be given temporary refuge, government and diplomatic officials said.

"The Government of the Republic of Uganda this morning received Fifty One (51) evacuees from Afghanistan who arrived aboard a privately chartered flight at the Entebbe International Airport," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

It said it followed a request from the US government to temporarily host "at-risk" Afghan nationals and others who are in transit to the United States and other destinations worldwide. — AFP

August 25, 2021

Afghans on Wednesday faced an increasingly desperate race to escape life under the Taliban after President Joe Biden confirmed US-led evacuations will end next week.

More than 70,000 people have already been evacuated, but huge crowds remain outside Kabul airport hoping to flee the threat of reprisals and repression in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.

Biden said Tuesday the United States would stick to his August 31 deadline to completely withdraw its troops despite warnings from European allies that not all vulnerable Afghans would able to leave by then.

"The sooner we can finish, the better... each day of operations brings added risk to our troops," Biden said Tuesday. 

"We are currently on the pace to finish by August 31." — AFP

August 25, 2021

President Joe Biden says Tuesday that the US-led airlift from Afghanistan has to finish soon because of the increasing threat from the Islamic State group's Afghan arm.

The longer the US stays in the country, Biden says, there is an "acute and growing risk of an attack by a terrorist group known as ISIS-K," or Islamic State-Khorasan.

"Every day we're on the ground is another day we know that ISIS-K is seeking to target the airport and attack both US and allied forces," he says. — AFP

August 25, 2021

The World Bank has suspended aid to Afghanistan, saying it is "deeply concerned" about the situation there after the Taliban seized power and especially the prospects for women, a bank spokesperson told AFP.

"We have paused disbursements in our operations in Afghanistan and we are closely monitoring and assessing the situation," the official said.

The World Bank has more than two dozen development projects ongoing in the country and has provided $5.3 billion since 2002, mostly in grants, according to the bank's website. — AFP

August 25, 2021

President Joe Biden has informed G7 leaders that the US mission in Kabul is "on pace" to end by an August 31 pullout deadline, the White House said Tuesday.

Biden warned that meeting the deadline would depend on Taliban cooperation regarding evacuee access to Kabul airport and has ordered contingency plans to "adjust the timeline" if necessary, said a statement from Press Secretary Jen Psaki. — AFP

August 24, 2021

US troops led an increasingly desperate effort Tuesday to airlift thousands of people out of Kabul, after the Taliban warned they would allow foreign forces to carry out evacuations for just one more week.

US President Joe Biden is under increasing pressure to extend an August 31 deadline to pull out American forces, with Britain to lobby at a virtual G7 summit on Tuesday for a longer presence.

About 50,000 foreigners and Afghans have fled the country from Kabul's airport since the Taliban swept into power 10 days ago.

But crowds continued to mass outside the airport, with Afghans terrified of facing life under the Taliban. — AFP

August 24, 2021

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian says that Paris believed it necessary to continue Afghan evacuations beyond Washington's August 31 deadline following the Taliban takeover.

France is seeking to evacuate more than 1,000 Afghans who are fleeing the country following the Taliban's lightning takeover a week ago, one of a number of nations scrambling to pull out vulnerable individuals.

"We are concerned about the deadline set by the United States on August 31. Additional time is needed to complete ongoing operations," Le Drian tells reporters at the UAE's Al-Dhafra air base, where France has set up an air bridge for people evacuated from Kabul. — AFP

August 23, 2021

US President Joe Biden says Sunday he was still planning to finalize the dramatic evacuation from Afghanistan by August 31, but left the door open to extending the deadline if necessary.

In a televised address from the White House on the chaotic exit, Biden says his "hope is we will not have to extend."

But he adds that "we'll see what we can do" if he is asked by foreign leaders to push back the deadline. — AFP

August 22, 2021

Seven Afghan civilians have died in the chaos near Kabul airport, the British defence ministry said Sunday.

"Our sincere thoughts are with the families of the seven Afghan civilians who have sadly died in crowds in Kabul," a ministry spokesperson said. — AFP

August 22, 2021

The United States and allies were on Saturday racing against "time and space" in the increasingly chaotic and dangerous bid to evacuate people from Taliban-held Afghanistan, with the EU warning it may be "impossible" to get everyone out in time.

Six days after the Taliban swept to power, tens of thousands of people were still trying to leave the country in what has been dubbed one of the most difficult airlifts in history. 

As desperate people, including children, wait for hours and days in the heat and crush outside the US-controlled Hamid Karzai International Airport, the delay has turned deadly for some.

Britain's Sky News on Saturday aired footage of at least three dead bodies covered in white tarpaulins outside the airport. It was not clear how they had died.

Sky reporter Stuart Ramsay, who was at the airport, called the deaths "inevitable" and said that people at the front of one part of the crowd were being "crushed", while others were "dehydrated and terrified".  — AFP

August 21, 2021

The Department of Foreign Affairs says in a situation bulletin that it evacuated another 40 Filipinos in Afghanistan.

Thirrty of the evacuees are currently in Pakistan. The remaining 10 departed Kabul "for different destinations -- 8 for Dubai, 1 for Doha, and 1 for Paris."

August 21, 2021

President Joe Biden reassures the United States on the dramatic evacuation from Afghanistan, promising no Americans would be abandoned in one of the "most difficult" airlifts in history.

Widely criticized over the chaotic exit after a sudden Taliban victory, Biden warned that the frantic effort to fly Americans, other foreigners and Afghan allies out of Taliban-occupied Kabul was dangerous.

"This is one of the largest, most difficult airlifts in history," he says in a televised address from the White House. "I cannot promise what the final outcome will be." — AFP

August 21, 2021

An official says the US military in Afghanistan deployed three helicopters to rescue 169 Americans unable to reach the Kabul airport gates to leave the country.

In the first evidence that US forces are willing and able to go beyond the US-secured airport to help people seeking evacuation, three Chinook helicopters flew to pick up the group of US citizens at the Baron hotel, not far from the airport, according to Pentagon spokesman John Kirby.

The group had planned to walk to the Abbey Gate of the airport, but a crowd was gathered there and US officials were concerned for the Americans' safety. — AFP

August 20, 2021

As of Friday, 13 more Filipinos were able to exit Afghanistan for the United Kingdom, bringing the number up to 18.

 The Philippine Embassy in London facilitates their return to the Philippines.

There are 81 estimated Filipinos in Afghanistan, 70 of which are requesting repatriation.

August 20, 2021

Taliban fighters in Afghanistan have shot and killed a relative of a Deutsche Welle journalist while hunting for him, the German public broadcaster said.

The militants were conducting a house-to-house search for the journalist, who now works in Germany, DW said Thursday.

A second relative was seriously wounded but others were able to escape, it said, without giving details of the incident. — AFP

August 20, 2021

Facebook releases new security measures to protect users in Afghanistan after the lightning takeover of the country by the Taliban, who are already barred from the social media giant's platforms.

Following recommendations from activists, journalists and civil society groups, the company said users can now shield their posts from people they don't know.

Also, users of Facebook-owned Instagram in Afghanistan will receive notifications informing them of methods to protect their accounts. — AFP

August 20, 2021

The Taliban is intensifying a search for people who worked with US and NATO forces, a confidential United Nations document says, despite the militants vowing no revenge against opponents.

The report — provided by the UN's threat-assessment consultants and seen by AFP — says the group has "priority lists" of individuals it wants to arrest.

Most at risk are people who had central roles in the Afghan military, police and intelligence units, according to the document. — AFP

August 19, 2021

President Joe Biden said Wednesday that US troops could stay in Afghanistan beyond their August 31 withdrawal deadline if necessary to evacuate all Americans from the country.

When asked in an ABC interview if the troops would stay until every American who wants to be has been evacuated, Biden replied: "Yes." 

"Americans should understand that we're going to try to get it done before August 31st," he said, before adding: "If there's American citizens left, we're gonna stay to get them all out." — AFP

August 19, 2021

President Joe Biden on Wednesday said the Taliban was cooperating with evacuation of Americans and foreigners from Kabul, but US forces were facing "difficulty" in getting Afghan allies out.

"They're cooperating, letting American citizens get out, American personnel get out, embassies get out, etcetera, but they're having — we're having some more difficulty having those who helped us when we were in there," he said in an interview with ABC News. — AFP

August 19, 2021

The IMF will withhold funds to Afghanistan amid the uncertainty over the status of the leadership in Kabul, a spokesperson for the institution told AFP Wednesday.

The move comes after the US government took steps to block Afghanistan's assets held in US accounts following the swift Taliban takeover of the country over the weekend.

"There is currently a lack of clarity within the international community regarding recognition of a government in Afghanistan, as a consequence of which the country cannot access... IMF resources," the official said. — AFP

August 18, 2021

Australia says it had no plans to allow in tens of thousands of Afghan refugees fleeing the Taliban, citing security concerns and casting doubt on promises from other Western nations.

Britain announced this week a resettlement scheme to let in up to 20,000 Afghans over the long term, with priority given to women, children and those facing persecution. 

Canada said last week it would take in up to 20,000 people. — AFP

August 18, 2021

Up to 20,000 Afghans will be resettled in Britain in the coming years, including 5,000 in the first year, the government says, after the Taliban's stunning return to power.

"We owe a debt of gratitude to all those who have worked with us to make Afghanistan a better place over the last 20 years. Many of them, particularly women, are now in urgent need of our help," Prime Minister Boris Johnson says. — AFP

Get the latest news as Taliban gains control of Afghanistan. Photo courtesy of Al Jazeera/AFP

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