The Taliban seized control of the city of Kabul, the capital of the U.S.-backed government in Afghanistan, on Sunday and declared the war in Afghanistan is over.
The Department of Defense said, in an emailed statement shared with American Military News, At present we are completing a series of steps to secure the Hamid Karzai International Airport to enable the safe departure of U.S. and allied personnel from Afghanistan via civilian and military flights. Over the next 48 hours, we will have expanded our security presence to nearly 6,000 troops, with a mission-focused solely on facilitating these efforts and will be taking over air traffic control.”
“Tomorrow and over the coming days, we will be transferring out of the country thousands of American citizens who have been resident in Afghanistan, as well as locally employed staff of the U.S. mission in Kabul and their families and other particularly vulnerable Afghan nationals,” the Defense Department statement continued. “And we will accelerate the evacuation of thousands of Afghans eligible for U.S. Special Immigrant Visas, nearly 2,000 of whom have already arrived in the United States over the past two weeks. For all categories, Afghans who have cleared security screening will continue to be transferred directly to the United States. And we will find additional locations for those yet to be screened.”
A Twitter user shared footage purporting to show the crowds gathered at the Kabul airport, awaiting evacuation. “Total chaos at Kabul airport. People try to get flights out of Afghanistan. #Kabul.”
Video, first shared by Al-Jazeera, showed the Taliban occupying the Afghan presidential palace.
On Monday morning, Taliban co-founder Mullah Baradar said, “We have reached a a victory that wasn’t expected…we should show humility in front of Allah…now it’s time of test — now it’s about how we serve and secure our people, and ensure their future/good life to best of ability”
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country ahead of the Taliban takeover of Kabul. Ghani did not initially announce his departure, but later confirmed his departure in a Facebook post saying, “The Taliban have made it to remove me, they are here to attack all Kabul and the people of Kabul. In order to avoid the bleeding flood, I thought it was best to get out.”
The fall of Kabul comes as U.S. troops are still withdrawing from the country. U.S. combat operations are still set to conclude on August 31 and the full U.S. withdrawal is set to conclude by September 11.
On Saturday, President Joe Biden announced the deployment of an additional 1,000 U.S. troops in the country, in addition to the 3,000 troops deployed earlier in the week and the 1,000 troops that were already in the country; bringing the total U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan to 5,000. The new U.S. troop deployments are intended to provide added security for embassy staff evacuating the city.
On Sunday, U.S. troops flew evacuation flights from the U.S. Embassy in Kabul to the nearby Kabul Airport. By early Monday morning in Afghanistan, CNN reported that U.S. troops have completed the embassy evacuation.
Task & Purpose reported, based on a post shared on an Army Reddit forum, “A photo allegedly showing the last flight from the US embassy in Kabul with the US Flag.”
Human Events journalist Jack Posobiec tweeted, “Last US chopper leaves Kabul embassy in Afghanistan.”
The Taliban’s capture of Kabul comes well ahead of the timeline U.S. officials anticipated for the Taliban’s territorial gains throughout the country. On Wednesday, Reuters reported one U.S. intelligence analysis projected Kabul wouldn’t fall to the Taliban for another 90 days. On Thursday, a day later, the New York Times reported expectations that Kabul would only hold out against the Taliban for 30 days.