Taliban forces successfully surrounded the Afghan capital; Kabul on Sunday (15/8/2021) as the United States (US) was evacuating diplomats from its embassy by helicopter. Taliban Successfully Enter Afghanistan’s Capital
State Department spokesman Ned Price said 6;000 “fully processed” people were currently at the Kabul airport and would soon be boarding planes. A source told Reuters that White House officials told a congressional briefing that the United States already had evacuated 6;741 people; including 1;792 American citizens and legal permanent residents.
The Taliban swiftly conquered Afghanistan as U.S. and other foreign troops withdrew; surprising even their own leaders and leaving power vacuums in many places.
The Taliban urged unity ahead of Friday prayers; calling on imams to persuade people not to leave Afghanistan.
Since seizing Kabul on Sunday; the Taliban have presented a more moderate face; saying they want peace; will not take revenge against old enemies and will respect the rights of women within the framework of Islamic law.
When in power from 1996-2001; they severely restricted women’s rights; staged public executions and blew up ancient Buddhist statues. They were ousted in a 2001 U.S.-led invasion.
A U.S. lawmaker said the Taliban were using files from Afghanistan’s intelligence agency; the National Directorate of Security; to identify Afghans who worked for the United States.
“They are methodically ramping up efforts to round those folks up;” said Representative Jason Crow; who has been leading efforts in the U.S. Congress to accelerate the evacuation of American-affiliated Afghans. “I’ve had people send me pictures of Taliban outside their apartment complexes; searching for them.”
Crow voiced concern that the U.S. government may end the evacuation operation on Aug. 31; leaving more than 100;000 at-risk Afghans and family members in danger of Taliban reprisals.