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NEWSMAX: Taliban insurgents entered Afghanistan’s capital Kabul on Sunday, an interior ministry official said, as the United States evacuated diplomats from its embassy by helicopter.
The senior official told Reuters the Taliban were coming in “from all sides” but gave no further details.
There were no reports of fighting. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement that the group was in talks with the government for a peaceful surrender of Kabul.
The entry into the capital caps a lightning advance by the Islamist militants, who were ousted 20 years ago by the United States after the Sept. 11 attacks. The collapse of the Afghan government defense has stunned diplomats – just last week, a U.S. intelligence estimate said Kabul could hold out for at least three months.
“Taliban fighters are to be on standby on all entrances of Kabul until a peaceful and satisfactory transfer of power is agreed,” the statement said.
A tweet from the Afghan Presidential palace account said firing had been heard at a number of points around Kabul but that security forces, in coordination with international partners, had control of the city.
PHOTO 1: US diplomat evacuate US from embassy via helicopter as the #Taliban enter #Kabul from all sides. #Afghanistan (2021)— Stefan Simanowitz (@StefSimanowitz) August 15, 2021
PHOTO 2: US diplomat evacuate US from embassy via helicopter as the PAVN & Viet Cong capture of Saigon, Vietnam (1975) pic.twitter.com/YamWmzjOay
Live video of US Military Chinook helicopters evacuating the US Embassy in #Kabul as the #Taliban surrounds the besieged capital of #Afghanistan. Absolutely stunning footage. pic.twitter.com/BORzODDLZV— IntelWalrus (@IntelWalrus) August 15, 2021
There was no immediate word on the situation from President Ashraf Ghani. A palace official said he was in emergency talks with U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and top NATO officials.
Many of Kabul’s streets were choked by cars and people either trying to rush home or reach the airport, residents said.
“Some people have left their keys in the car and have started walking to the airport,” one resident told Reuters by phone. Another said: “People are all going home in fear of fighting.”
U.S. officials said diplomats were being ferried by helicopter to the airport from its embassy in the fortified Wazir Akbar Khan district. More American troops were being sent to help in the evacuations after the Taliban’s lightning advances brought the Islamist group to Kabul in a matter of days.
“Core” U.S. team members were working from the Kabul airport, a U.S. official said, while a NATO official said several EU staff had moved to a safer, undisclosed location in the capital.
Earlier on Sunday, the insurgents captured the eastern city of Jalalabad without a fight, giving them control of one of the main highways into landlocked Afghanistan. They also took over the nearby Torkham border post with Pakistan, leaving Kabul airport the only way out of Afghanistan that is still in government hands.
The capture of Jalalabad followed the Taliban’s seizure of the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif late on Saturday, also with little fighting. Continue reading at Newsmax.