The government in Afghanistan has collapsed, The New York Times and other on-the-ground sources reported Sunday, and the Taliban have entered Kabul, the country’s largest city.
As The Daily Wire reported earlier Sunday, the Taliban halted their march just outside of Kabul city gates and had been negotiating a “transfer of power.”
The president of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani fled the country around 10 a.m., Washington, D.C., time, with his core group of advisors seeking shelter in Tajikistan and effectively leaving Afghanistan in Taliban control.
The Afghan army had also effectively “collapsed,” and the American embassy had been shuttered. The American ambassador has been evacuated, and U.S. citizens and allies have been ordered to “shelter in place” as the Taliban moves into Kabul,” The Daily Wire noted in a separate report. Many of the diplomats and American staff in Afghanistan were evacuated by helicopter overnight and taken to the Kabul airport where they await military flights from the region, in scenes that were reminiscent of the final evacuation of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War.
The U.S. Embassy lowered its flag as officials moved their diplomatic operations to Kabul airport.
“Afghanistan’s government collapsed on Sunday with President Ashraf Ghani’s flight from the country and the Taliban’s entry into the capital, effectively sealing the insurgents’ control of the country after dozens of cities fell to their lightning advance,” The New York Times reported.
The Taliban announced, around 6 p.m. local time in Kabul, that they had entered the city. In a statement, a spokesperson for the organization said that the group “ordered its forces to enter the areas of Kabul city from which the enemy has left because there is risk of theft and robbery.”
“Our forces are entering Kabul city with all caution,” the spokesperson said.
On social media, photos and videos of the Taliban’s entrance into Kabul appeared.
The Taliban entered Afghanistan's capital Kabul, an interior ministry official said, as the U.S. evacuated diplomats from its embassy by helicopter. Earlier, the insurgents captured the city of Jalalabad without a fight https://t.co/CkbOEYDLXF pic.twitter.com/8NCFc1sY7W
— Reuters (@Reuters) August 15, 2021
The BBC also posted footage of the Taliban’s entrance into Kabul.
"Women can have access to education"
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) August 15, 2021
A Sky News reporter was on the scene in front of Taliban supporters as they marched.
This is the moment a procession of Taliban supporters marched past our chief correspondent @ramsaysky in Kabul
— Sky News (@SkyNews) August 15, 2021
Further videos appear to show Kabul residents trying to escape, though most commercial flights out of the country are being turned back.
“‘Greetings, the Taliban have reached the city. We are escaping,’ said Sahraa Karimi, the head of Afghan Film, in a post shared widely on Facebook. Filming herself as she fled on foot, out of breath and clutching at her headscarf, she shouted at others to escape while they could,” The New York Times noted.
Photos of Taliban leaders in the Afghan presidential palace have also circulated, according to the Daily Mail, which obtained pictures that reportedly show Taliban fighters gathered around conference tables and posed at podiums in the country’s seat of power.
The New York Times reported that a coalition has formed to engage in “peace talks” with the Taliban, though it is not clear whether the Taliban is poised to come to the table.
“On Sunday evening, former President Hamid Karzai announced on Twitter that he was forming a coordinating council together with Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the Afghan delegation to peace talks, and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the leader of the Hesb-i-Islami party, to manage a peaceful transfer of power,” the outlet continued. “Mr. Karzai called on both government and Taliban forces to act with restraint.”
A report from Fox News added that the Taliban plans to declare the country the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” as early as this evening. “That was the name of the country under the Taliban government ousted by U.S.-led forces after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief media,” the outlet said.
The United States leaves several thousand troops, but also diplomatic personnel and some allies. The Biden administration is reportedly trying to negotiate a two-week window to wrap up operations in Kabul. The Taliban, however, has said that foreigners in Kabul will be required to “either leave or register their presence with Taliban administrations, per the Daily Mail.
The Taliban has also declared a 9 p.m. curfew on the city
The Biden administration, which had predicted a more protracted timeline for the Taliban takeover, was largely silent on Sunday. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken appeared on Sunday news shows defending the administration’s plan for withdrawal, but President Joe Biden, who is at Camp David and has called a “lid” on communications until Wednesday, has not issued a statement.