The fall of Kabul marks the final chapter of America’s longest war, which began after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks.
Updated about 7 hours ago

The Taliban  on Sunday after the government collapsed and the embattled president joined an exodus of his fellow citizens and foreigners, signalling the end of a costly two-decade US campaign to remake the country.

Heavily armed Taliban fighters fanned out across the capital, and several entered Kabul’s abandoned presidential palace. Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban spokesman and negotiator, told The Associated Press that the militants would hold talks in the coming days aimed at forming an “open, inclusive Islamic government”.

Taliban fighters ride on a police vehicle in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 16, 2021. — Reuters
Taliban fighters ride on a police vehicle in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 16, 2021. — Reuters

 

Earlier, a Taliban official said the group would announce from the palace the restoration of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the formal name of the country under Taliban rule before the militants were ousted by US-led forces in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, which were orchestrated by Al Qaeda while it was being sheltered by the Taliban. But that plan appeared to be on hold.

A member of the Taliban stands guard as people walk at the entrance gate of Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 16, 2021. — Reuters
A member of the Taliban stands guard as people walk at the entrance gate of Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 16, 2021. — Reuters

 

Kabul was gripped by panic. Helicopters raced overhead throughout the day to evacuate personnel from the US Embassy. Smoke rose near the compound as staff destroyed important documents, and the American flag was lowered. Several other Western missions also prepared to pull their people out.

A horde of people run towards the Kabul Airport Terminal after Taliban insurgents took control of the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 16, 2021. — Reuters
A horde of people run towards the Kabul Airport Terminal after Taliban insurgents took control of the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 16, 2021. — Reuters

 

Fearful that the Taliban could reimpose the kind of brutal rule that all but eliminated women’s rights, Afghans rushed to leave the country, lining up at cash machines to withdraw their life savings. The desperately poor — who had left homes in the countryside for the presumed safety of the capital — remained in parks and open spaces throughout the city.

People walk at the entrance gate of Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 16, 2021. — Reuters
People walk at the entrance gate of Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 16, 2021. — Reuters

 

As night fell, Taliban fighters deployed across Kabul, taking over abandoned police posts and pledging to maintain law and order during the transition. Residents reported looting in parts of the city, including in the upscale diplomatic district, and messages circulating on social media advised people to stay inside and lock their gates.

Taliban fighters ride on a police vehicle outside Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 16, 2021. — Reuters
Taliban fighters ride on a police vehicle outside Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 16, 2021. — Reuters

 

The fall of Kabul marks the final chapter of America’s longest war, which began after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks. A US-led invasion dislodged the Taliban and beat them back, but America lost focus on the conflict in the chaos of the Iraq war.

A member of Taliban stands outside the Interior Ministry in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 16, 2021. — Reuters
A member of Taliban stands outside the Interior Ministry in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 16, 2021. — Reuters

 

A member of Taliban (C) stands outside Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 16, 2021. — Reuters
A member of Taliban (C) stands outside Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 16, 2021. — Reuters

 

Taliban fighters stand outside the Interior Ministry in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 16, 2021. — Reuters
Taliban fighters stand outside the Interior Ministry in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 16, 2021. — Reuters

 

Afghans crowd at the tarmac of the Kabul airport in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 16, 2021, to flee the country. — AFP
Afghans crowd at the tarmac of the Kabul airport in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 16, 2021, to flee the country. — AFP

 

Afghans crowd at the tarmac of the Kabul airport in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 16, 2021, to flee the country. — AFP
Afghans crowd at the tarmac of the Kabul airport in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 16, 2021, to flee the country. — AFP

 

Afghans (L) crowd at the airport as US soldiers stand guard in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 16, 2021. — AFP
Afghans (L) crowd at the airport as US soldiers stand guard in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 16, 2021. — AFP

 

Afghan passengers crowd at the airport as they wait to leave from Kabul, Afghanistan on August 16, 2021. — AFP
Afghan passengers crowd at the airport as they wait to leave from Kabul, Afghanistan on August 16, 2021. — AFP

 

A handout picture taken and released by the British Ministry of Defence on August 15, 2021, shows members of the British Army, from 16 Air Assault Brigade, as they disembark from an RAF Voyager aircraft after landing in Kabul, Afghanistan, to assist in evacuating British nationals and entitled persons as part of Operation PITTING. — AFP
A handout picture taken and released by the British Ministry of Defence on August 15, 2021, shows members of the British Army, from 16 Air Assault Brigade, as they disembark from an RAF Voyager aircraft after landing in Kabul, Afghanistan, to assist in evacuating British nationals and entitled persons as part of Operation PITTING. — AFP

 

A handout picture taken and released by the British Ministry of Defence on August 15, 2021, shows members of the British Army, from 16 Air Assault Brigade, as they disembark from an RAF Voyager aircraft after landing in Kabul, Afghanistan, to assist in evacuating British nationals and entitled persons as part of Operation PITTING. — AFP
A handout picture taken and released by the British Ministry of Defence on August 15, 2021, shows members of the British Army, from 16 Air Assault Brigade, as they disembark from an RAF Voyager aircraft after landing in Kabul, Afghanistan, to assist in evacuating British nationals and entitled persons as part of Operation PITTING. — AFP

 

Taliban fighters take control of the Afghan presidential palace after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 15, 2021. — AP
Taliban fighters take control of the Afghan presidential palace after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 15, 2021. — AP

 

Taliban fighters take control of the Afghan presidential palace after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 15, 2021. — AP
Taliban fighters take control of the Afghan presidential palace after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 15, 2021. — AP

 

The Taliban flag flies at the Ghazni provincial governor's house, in Ghazni, southeastern Afghanistan on August 15, 2021. — AP
The Taliban flag flies at the Ghazni provincial governor’s house, in Ghazni, southeastern Afghanistan on August 15, 2021. — AP

 

Taliban fighters pray while raising their flag at the Ghazni provincial governor's house, in Ghazni, southeastern Afghanistan on August 15, 2021. — AP
Taliban fighters pray while raising their flag at the Ghazni provincial governor’s house, in Ghazni, southeastern Afghanistan on August 15, 2021. — AP

 

Smoke rises next to the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 15, 2021. — AP
Smoke rises next to the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 15, 2021. — AP

 


Header image: Taliban fighters take control of the Afghan presidential palace after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 15, 2021. — AP