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Afghan president to relinquish power as Taliban invades Kabul

Sunday August 15, 2021

Afghan president Ashraf Ghani will relinquish power in the coming hours as Taliban invaded Kabul on Sunday, and a new Taliban-led government will be formed in the coming hours, according to Al Arabiya.

Ali Ahmad Jilali, a US-based Academic and former Afghan Interior Minister, has been chosen to head an Interim Taliban-led Afghan administration, sources told Reuters.

Taliban are in talks with the Afghan government over a "peaceful surrender" of Kabul, the Taliban spokesperson stated.

President Ghani, who said on Saturday he was in urgent consultations with local leaders and international partners on the situation, held emergency talks with US special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad as well as top NATO officials.

After its lightning advance on the capital, the insurgent group ordered its fighters to refrain violence, allow safe passage to anyone seeking to leave and request women to head to protected areas, said a Taliban leader in Doha.

Taliban fighters were also ordered to stand at all entry points of Kabul.
"We don't want a single, innocent Afghan civilian to be injured or killed as we take charge," a Taliban official told Reuters. "But we have not declared a ceasefire," he added.

The leader called on Afghan forces to stop gunfire and allow a safe passage out of Kabul to all civilians and foreigners. He also noted Mujahideen have not killed or injured anyone in Kabul yet.

Taliban spokesperson has asked Afghan civilians who want to leave the country due to fear, to remain in Afghanistan. Taliban "does not intend to take revenge on government and military personnel and all those who have served the state will be forgiven," according to the spokesperson.

Afghan acting interior minister Abdul Sattar Mirzakwal has insisted Kabul will not be attacked, stating a peaceful transition will happen, with security forces ensuring Kabul's security. Taliban's Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar is preparing to arrive in Afghanistan, according to an official in Doha.

Top US diplomats were evacuated by helicopter as "core" of fewer than 50 US officials in Kabul are working from Kabul Airport, according to a US official. The US has also advised other embassies in Kabul to operate with limited staff from a safe location.

Britain is working to protect its citizens and help other eligible former UK staff to leave Afghanistan, the interior ministry said on Sunday.

"Home Office (interior ministry) officials are right now working to protect British nationals and help former UK staff and other eligible people travel to the UK," it said on Twitter.

The British parliament will be recalled from its summer recess next week to discuss the situation in Afghanistan, a source at Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Downing Street office said on Sunday, as Taliban insurgents entered Kabul.

The entry into the capital caps a lightning advance by the Islamist militants, who were ousted 20 years ago by the United States after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Britain's interior ministry said earlier that it was working to protect its citizens and help other eligible former UK staff to leave Afghanistan.

In addition, several UN staff members moved to an undisclosed, safe location in Kabul, according to a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) official.

A number of gunshots were heard around Kabul. according to the Afghan President's Office twitter account, Afghanistan's security and defense forces currently have the situation under control.

Earlier on Sunday, the insurgents captured the eastern city of Jalalabad without a fight, giving them control of one of the main highways into landlocked Afghanistan.

They also took over the nearby Torkham border post with Pakistan, leaving Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul the only way out of Afghanistan that is still in government hands.


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