By KATHY GANNON, Associated Press
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The Taliban mentioned Monday they seized the final province not of their management after their blitz via Afghanistan final month, overrunning forces who had opposed their takeover.
Thousands of Taliban fighters charged into eight districts of Panjshir province in a single day, in accordance with witnesses from the world who spoke on situation of anonymity as a result of they feared for his or her security. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed that the province, which is north of the capital, was now held by their fighters.
“We tried our greatest to unravel the issue via negotiations, they usually rejected talks after which we needed to ship our forces to combat,” Mujahid informed a news convention in Kabul later Monday.
The resisting forces have been led by the previous vice chairman, Amrullah Saleh, and likewise the son of the long-lasting anti-Taliban fighter Ahmad Shah Massoud. Experts had doubted that the holdout efforts may succeed long-term in opposition to the Taliban, whose fast advance via Afghanistan met little resistance within the closing days of America’s 20-year battle within the nation.
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The U.S. withdrew its final troops every week in the past and ended a harrowing airlift to evacuate Western residents and their Afghan allies that was marred by scenes of desperation and horrific violence.
During that evacuation, 1000’s of individuals descended on Kabul’s airport, hoping to flee the nation as a result of they feared what the Taliban’s rule would possibly maintain, given their historical past of repression, significantly of ladies. At one level, an Islamic State suicide bomber focused the crowds, killing 169 Afghans and 13 American service members.
Many individuals are nonetheless hoping to depart the nation, however with Kabul’s airport not but working worldwide flights, their selections are few. In the nation’s north, officers mentioned Sunday that a minimum of 4 planes chartered to evacuate a number of hundred folks have been unable to depart the nation for days. But there have been conflicting accounts about why.
The U.S. is below stress to assist the remaining Americans and inexperienced card holders depart the nation, and it has promised to work with the new Taliban rulers do this — nevertheless it has given no timeframe.
An Afghan official on the airport within the northern metropolis of Mazar-e-Sharif mentioned that the would-be passengers have been Afghans, lots of whom didn’t have passports or visas, and thus have been unable to depart. Speaking on situation of anonymity as a result of he was not licensed to speak to reporters, he mentioned that they had left the airport whereas the state of affairs was being sorted out.
But the highest Republican on the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee mentioned that the group included Americans and that that they had boarded planes however the Taliban weren’t letting them take off, successfully “holding them hostage.” Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas informed “Fox News Sunday” that American residents and Afghan interpreters have been being stored on six planes.
He didn’t say the place that data got here from, and it was not instantly attainable to reconcile the 2 accounts. The State Department has mentioned it has no dependable approach to verify details about such constitution flights.
But the U.S. has helped a household of 4 American residents to flee via an overland route, in accordance with American official. The official, who spoke on situation of anonymity as a result of they weren’t licensed to talk publicly as a result of sensitivity of the matter, wouldn’t give particulars of the evacuation or say which nation they went to.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are touring to the Persian Gulf and Europe this week to debate Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, the Taliban say they’re working to restore Kabul’s airport, the place solely home flights have resumed and simply through the day for now. Mujahid, the group’s spokesman, informed reporters Monday that American troopers destroyed tools earlier than departing, together with the vital radar system. The U.S. has mentioned troops destroyed army tools however left tools helpful for working a civilian airport, like fireplace vehicles.
Technical consultants from Qatar and Turkey have begun repairs, although it’s not clear when the airport can be up and working.
The Taliban have pledged to permit anybody with the correct authorized paperwork to depart the nation — and several other international locations have mentioned they’re watching carefully to see if the new rulers make good on that pledge. The Taliban have typically promised to manipulate extra reasonably than after they have been final in energy within the late Nineteen Nineties and have become international pariahs for his or her harsh interpretation of Islamic legislation and restrictions on girls.
Still, consultants didn’t assume the anti-Taliban fighters in Panjshir, the final holdout province, had a lot of an opportunity, even given the world’s geographical benefit.
Nestled within the towering Hindu Kush mountains, the Panjshir Valley has a single slim entrance. Local fighters held off the Soviets there within the Nineteen Eighties and likewise, for a quick time, the Taliban a decade later below the management of Massoud.
Massoud’s son Ahmad known as for an finish to the preventing on Sunday. The younger British-schooled Massoud mentioned his forces have been prepared to put down their weapons however provided that the Taliban agreed to finish their assault. Late on Sunday dozens of automobiles loaded with Taliban fighters have been seen swarming into the Panjshir Valley.
In a second assertion Monday, a now-defiant Massoud accused the Taliban of attacking whilst they have been able to comply with a cease-fire. He vowed to combat on, urged Afghans to affix of their battle in opposition to the Taliban and chastised the worldwide group for giving the Taliban a platform by opening negotiations with them.
There has been no assertion from Saleh, Afghanistan’s former vice chairman who had declared himself the appearing president after President Ashraf Ghani fled the nation on Aug. 15 because the Taliban reached the gates of the capital.
The whereabouts of Saleh and the younger Massoud weren’t instantly recognized Monday.
Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman, sought to guarantee residents of Panjshir that they’d be protected — whilst scores of households reportedly fled into the mountains forward of the Taliban’s arrival.
“There isn’t any want for any extra preventing,” Mujahid mentioned on the news convention. “All Panjshir folks and people who dwell in Panjshir are our brothers and they’re a part of our nation.”
The Taliban had stepped up their assault on Panjshir on Sunday, tweeting that their forces overran Rokha district, one of many largest within the province.
Mujahid additionally informed reporters that the Taliban would announce a new authorities “inside days” — one that might be inclusive, he mentioned, with out elaborating. Once the federal government is shaped, members of the previous Afghan military and safety forces can be requested to return to work to kind a military with Taliban fighters, he added.
Asked what rights girls would have below the Taliban, Mujahid promised all girls would finally be “requested to return” to their jobs.
The Taliban have claimed unspecified “safety causes” are behind the present gradual tempo of return of Afghan girls to their workplaces and likewise behind proscribing girls to their properties, until accompanied by a male guardian. But many who bear in mind their earlier rule are skeptical.
Associated Press writers Rahim Faiez in Istanbul and Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report.
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