Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has held urgent talks with local leaders and international partners today as the Taliban rebels approach the Afghan capital, Kabul.
The United States and other countries have responded quickly by sending troops to help evacuate their embassies after militants seized several towns after the United States and other pro-government foreign forces withdrew.
“As your president, my plan is to prevent instability, violence, and displacement of my people,” Ghani said in a brief televised address, adding that he was consulting with the government, elders, politicians and world leaders. .
He did not give a signal in response to the Taliban’s call for him to resign from any talks on a ceasefire and political agreement, saying his priority was to strengthen the country’s security forces and defense.
“Serious steps will be taken in this regard,” he said, without elaborating.
The news from the Afghan president comes shortly after the insurgents, met with little resistance, took control of Pul-e-Alam, the capital of Logar province and 70 km (40 miles) south of Kabul, according to a local council member. state, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity.
The Taliban said it was close to capturing Maidan Shahr, another city near Kabul on the main road south of Kandahar.
The U.S. military has begun flying to Kabul to help evacuate embassy staff and other civilians, according to an unnamed U.S. official.
The Pentagon says two naval battalions will arrive in Kabul on Sunday evening, with about 3,000 troops taking part.
Britain and other Western nations are also sending troops amid growing resistance from Afghan government forces and growing fears of an attack in Kabul.
Italy will vacate its embassy in Kabul if necessary, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said in an interview published today.
An Afghan government official confirmed on Friday that Kandahar, the largest city in the south, is under Taliban control as US-led international forces complete their withdrawal after 20 years of fighting. Herat in the west, near the Iranian border, has also fallen to the group.
The loss of Kandahar was a major setback for the government. It is the heart of the Taliban – the Pashtun ethnic group that emerged in 1994 during a period of civil war chaos – and is close to Spin Boldak, one of Pakistan’s two largest trade routes and a major source of tax revenue.
Some embassies began burning sensitive material before evacuating, diplomats.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned that “Afghanistan is getting out of hand” and urged all parties to do more to protect civilians. Read more
“It is time to stop the attack. This is the time to start real negotiations. This is the time to avoid a protracted civil war, or the siege of Afghanistan, “Guterres told reporters in New York.
Tens of thousands of people have applied for visas at embassies, and Washington has asked countries to temporarily resettle Afghans working for the United States.
The aftermath of the war has raised fears of a refugee crisis and a reversal of human rights gains, especially for women.
About 400,000 civilians have been evacuated from their homes this year, 250,000 of them since May, according to a United Nations official.
Canada has said it will resettle more than 20,000 vulnerable Afghans including women leaders, human rights workers and journalists to protect them from Taliban retaliation.
In major Afghan cities, the government still controls Mazar-i-Sharif in the north and Jalalabad, near Pakistan’s eastern border, including Kabul.
The pace of the Taliban’s success has led to a reconsideration of the US withdrawal, which was negotiated last year under President Joe Biden’s administration under Republican Donald Trump.
Biden said this week that he has no regrets about his decision to leave. He noted that Washington had spent more than $ 1 trillion and lost thousands of troops over the past two decades, and called on Afghan forces and leaders to strengthen their security.