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Taliban breaks into Afghan capital, interior ministry reports

As the Taliban advanced into the Afghan capital, Kabul, the US evacuated diplomats from its embassy by helicopter.

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On Sunday, an official from the Afghan interior ministry announced that the Taliban entered the Afghan capital Kabul. Speaking to Reuters, the official said that the group was infiltrating “from all sides,” without giving further details. Also, the US reportedly evacuated its diplomats and staff from the embassy by a chopper.

The Afghan Presidential Palace tweeted that gunshots had been heard at several points around the city. However, the Afghan security forces controlled the city in cooperation with international forces, the Afghan Presidential Palace Twitter account added.

Meanwhile, diplomats were being transferred to the airport from the embassy in reinforced Wazir Akbar Khan district, according to the US officials. Recently, the US has decided to send more soldiers to Afghanistan to help in evacuations after the Taliban’s rapid advancement towards Kabul in a few days.

According to a US intelligence estimate released just last week, Kabul might go through against the Taliban’s advancement for at least three months. A US official stated that a “core” US team carry on their business from the Kabul airport, while an official from NATO said that some EU employees were transferred to a safer, undisclosed location in the capital.

Stating that the group did not want any casualties as it took control, a Taliban member, who spoke to Reuters, also underlined that no ceasefire has been established.

Gathering with local leaders and international associates to discuss the situation on Saturday, President Ashraf Ghani has not commented on the latest developments yet.

Earlier on Sunday, the Taliban reportedly took control of the eastern city of Jalalabad without encountering resistance. With this gain, the group has possessed control over one of the main highways to Afghanistan. Then, the Torkham border post with Pakistan fell to the group. Thus, the only exit-way from Afghanistan is Kabul airport, which is still controlled by government forces.

An Afghan official, residing in Jalalabad, said, “There are no clashes taking place right now in Jalalabad because the governor has surrendered to the Taliban.” “Allowing passage to the Taliban was the only way to save civilian lives,” the official added.

On Saturday, a statement issued by the White House announced that President Biden certified the deployment of 5,000 US military personnel to be assigned in the evacuation of citizens and to ensure an “orderly and safe” withdrawal of military staff. Also, a military unit of 1,000 newly authorized from the 82nd Airborne Division was included, according to a US defense official.

Following the meeting with the Taliban representatives on Saturday, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani stated that he called the group to establish a ceasefire and withdraw their offensive in Afghanistan. The Qatari minister came together with the head of the Taliban’s political bureau, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, to discuss the stalled peace talks and the latest situation in the country, according to the statement.

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