More than 60 countries call for safe departure of Afghans and foreigners as Taliban takes over Kabul’s presidential palace.
Panic and fear gripped Kabul on Monday as heavily armed Taliban fighters took control of the abandoned presidential palace and Western nations scrambled to evacuate their citizens. Hundreds of Afghans desperate to leave the country also flooded the Kabul airport.
Mohammad Naeem also called for peaceful international relations.
“Thanks to God, the war is over in the country,” he said.
“We have reached what we were seeking, which is the freedom of our country and the independence of our people,” he added. “We will not allow anyone to use our lands to target anyone, and we do not want to harm others.”
Here are all the latest updates:
Taliban says situation in Kabul is ‘normal’
A spokesman for the Taliban said “the situation in Kabul is normal” and that its fighters “are busy providing security”.
In a Twitter post, Zabihullah Mujahid also said the Taliban has deployed special units to different parts of Kabul and that the “general public is happy with the arrival of the Mujahideen and satisfied with the security”.
In an earlier tweet, Mujahid had said the Taliban have assured all embassies that foreign nationals in Kabul will not face any danger.
Emirates suspends flights to Kabul
Emirates has suspended flights to the Afghan capital until further the notice, the airline said on its website.
“Customers holding tickets with final destination to Kabul will not be accepted for travel at their point of origin,” it said.
US completes evacuation of Kabul embassy
A spokesman for the US Department of State said the evacuation of US staff from its embassy in Kabul is now complete.
“We can confirm that the safe evacuation of all Embassy personnel is now complete. All Embassy personnel are located on the premises of Hamid Karzai International Airport, whose perimeter is secured by the US Military,” Ned Price wrote in a statement.
44,000 Afghans outside of Kabul need evacuation, says US army vet
Matt Zeller, a US veteran of the Afghan war, said some 44,000 Afghans who helped Washington during the 20-year conflict are outside of Kabul and require urgent evacuation.
“This is a disaster of epic proportions,” he said, warning that Afghans who helped the US military may now be “hunted down and systematically murdered by the Taliban”.
Zeller, who co-founded No One Left Behind, a charity that helps Afghans settle in the US, said President Joe Biden must order US troops to secure the Kabul airport.
“We then must open up a secure corridor so that we can begin evacuating our Afghan and wartime allies out of Afghanistan, not just from Kabul, but from every city where they reside,” he said.
“There are 44,000 people who are outside of Kabul and in other cities. The reports from them are horrific. There are public executions in Kandahar in the stadium. Women have been told they cannot leave their homes in Herat and the Taliban are going door to door in Mazar-i-Sharif looking for anyone who worked with the US military. This is a report we are hearing in other cities, including in Kabul.”
Australia PM ‘devastated’ by situation in Afghanistan
Scott Morrison, the prime minister of Australia, said he’s “devastated” about developments in Afghanistan and said the cabinet’s national security committee will meet on Monday to review Australian operations out of Kabul.
Morrison said his government has already resettled 430 Afghans and their families who worked for Australia, and was planning to airlift those remaining there.
He described the situation in Afghanistan, particularly for women and girls, as “terrible”.
“Absolutely devastated about it. It’s a terrible, it’s a terrible situation,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corp in Canberra.
Australia shut its Kabul embassy in May and withdrew the last of its troops in June as US and NATO forces pulled out of the Afghanistan conflict after 20 years.
Most Western diplomats have left Kabul, says US official
A US official told the Reuters news agency that most Western diplomats have now left the Afghan capital.
“I can safely say the majority of Western diplomatic staff is out of Kabul now,” the unnamed official said. Some support staff remain, the official added.
Helicopters have been ferrying diplomats from the embassy district in the city to Kabul airport since Sunday, when the Taliban entered the city.
More than 60 countries call for safe departure of foreign nationals and Afghans
Dozens of countries from around the world are calling on all involved in events in Afghanistan to respect and facilitate the departure of foreign nationals and Afghans who wish to leave the country.
More than 60 nations released a joint statement on Sunday night citing what they call “the deteriorating security situation” in Afghanistan.
The statement says that those in power and authority across the country “bear responsibility – and accountability – for the protection of human life and property, and for the immediate restoration of security and civil order.”
It added: “Afghans and international citizens who wish to depart must be allowed to do so; roads, airports and border crossing must remain open, and calm must be maintained.
“The Afghan people deserve to live in safety, security and dignity. We in the international community stand ready to assist them.”
Taliban says ‘war is over in Afghanistan’
A spokesman for Taliban’s political office declared the war over in Afghanistan and called for peaceful relations with the international community.
“Today is a great day for the Afghan people and the mujahideen. They have witnessed the fruits of their efforts and their sacrifices for 20 years,” Mohammad Naeem, the spokesman for the Taliban’s political office, told Al Jazeera.
“Thanks to God, the war is over in the country.”
Naeem said the type and form of the new regime in Afghanistan would be made clear soon, adding the Taliban did not want to live in isolation and calling for peaceful international relations.
“We have reached what we were seeking, which is the freedom of our country and the independence of our people,” he said. “We will not allow anyone to use our lands to target anyone, and we do not want to harm others.”
US to secure Kabul airport for departures
The Pentagon and the US Department of State said they are taking steps to secure Kabul’s international airport to enable the safe departure of thousands of US and allied personnel from Afghanistan via civilian and military flights.
In a joint statement on Sunday night, the agencies said the US security presence will have expanded to nearly 6,000 troops over the next two days, with a “mission focused solely on facilitating” the departures. They will also take during 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 US mission in Kabul and their families and other particularly vulnerable Afghan nationals,” the statement said.
“And we will accelerate the evacuation of thousands of Afghans eligible for US Special Immigrant Visas, nearly 2,000 of whom have already arrived in the United States over the past two weeks.”
‘It’s shameful’: Ex-adviser slams president’s departure
Shafiq Hamdam, a former adviser to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, slammed Ghani’s decision to flee Afghanistan on Sunday amid the Taliban’s rapid advance on Kabul.
“It’s shameful. It’s embarrassing. People feel abandoned, people feel betrayed,” Hamdam told Al Jazeera from Washington, DC.
“After so many years of effort and so many years of investment, he has put a black dark mark in the history of democracy in Afghanistan. He himself escaped with his team and he didn’t have a second thought about the millions of people who live in misery, who live in uncertainty, and who are now left behind, living under Taliban regime.”
Hamdam said the Taliban need to prove they will protect women.
“From tomorrow on, we have to see women going to schools, we have to see women civil servants and teachers, like my mother going to school and teaching. That’s what I want and that’s what the world wants. And that’s a test for the Taliban. To prove if they have changed or not.”
Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.
For all the key developments from yesterday, August 15, go here.