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Pics: Taliban paints flag on abandoned US Embassy in Kabul

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, May 30, 2011. (S.K. Vemmer/Department of State)
September 07, 2021

The Taliban painted its flag on the walls of the now-abandoned U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan within a week after the final U.S. troops left the country.

Photos began to circulate on Monday showing the Taliban flag murals on the embassy’s exterior wall.

“Entrance to the (former?) US embassy in Kabul today Murals freshly painted over with a giant Taliban flag,” Guardian writer Emma Graham-Harrison tweeted.

Photos from outside the embassy show the white flag of the Taliban painted on one side of the embassy entrance and the coat of arms for the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan — the formal name of the Taliban government — on the other side.

Al-Monitor journalist Asaad Hanna tweeted, “The US Embassy in #Kabul Afghanistan now is in the hands of Taliban, the walls are painted with their emblem and their flags.”

The last Americans left the Kabul embassy on August 15 after Taliban forces entered the city and the U.S.-backed Afghan government relinquished control.

The Kabul embassy officially suspended its operations on Aug. 31, 2021, as the final U.S. troops departed Afghanistan. In an advisory, the embassy said “while the U.S. government has withdrawn its personnel from Kabul, we will continue to assist U.S. citizens and their families in Afghanistan from Doha, Qatar.”

The Biden administration worked with the Taliban throughout evacuation efforts over the last two weeks, to facilitate safe passage out of the country for U.S. citizens and vulnerable Afghans. During the evacuation effort, President Joe Biden said he did not think it was a mistake to work with the Taliban. Biden said the self-interests of the Taliban are to facilitate the U.S. withdrawal and not let terrorist groups like the Islamic State metastasized in the country.

“It is in the interests of, as McKenzie said, in the interests of the Taliban that in fact, ISIS-K does not metastasize,” Biden said on August 26.

“The major things we’ve asked [the Taliban] — moving back the perimeter, giving more space between the wall, stopping vehicles from coming through, et cetera, searching people coming through — it is not what you’d call a tightly commanded, regimented operation like the U.S. is, the military is,” Biden said at the time. “But they’re acting in their interests.”

While the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan has ended, potentially hundreds of Americans and thousands of Afghan allies are still trying to find a way out of the country.

Six planes carrying 1,000 people — including up to 100 Americans — are stranded at an airport in Mazar-i-Sharif located in northern Afghanistan. It is unclear if the planes remain stuck at the airport because of the Taliban or because of the U.S. State Department.