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The chaotic scenes at Hamid Karzai International Airport Monday captured by news crews and cell phones convey a terror and desperate rush to escape the country, which was now been entirely overrun by Taliban militants in the lead-up to the complete departure of U.S. forces.
A video shared on Twitter appears to shows large crowds of people, including children, moving toward passenger aircraft on the tarmac. There does not appear to be security or law enforcement in the area.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country on Sunday evening, reportedly to Tajikistan, as the Taliban entered the presidential palace and declared the war “over.” Ghani said he fled to prevent “a flood of bloodshed.”
“The Taliban have won with the judgment of their swords and guns, and are now responsible for the honor, property and self-preservation of their countrymen,” Ghani said.
Afghans crowd at the tarmac of the Kabul airport on August 16, 2021, to flee the country as the Taliban gained control of Afghanistan after President Ashraf Ghani fled the country and conceded the insurgents had won the 20-year war.
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The panic is unfolding as around 5,000 U.S. troops return to the country to evacuate Western diplomats. The forces were tasked, according to the State Department, with the “very narrowly focused mission” of evacuating embassy staff in Kabul. As of late Sunday, the U.S. embassy was moved into the airport.
Prior to Sunday, Kabul was the last major city to have been spared takeover by the militants.
A Taliban spokesperson said the fighters intended to negotiate a “peaceful surrender” of the city.
Since President Joe Biden’s April decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan before Sept. 11, the Taliban have made stunning battlefield advances with now the entirety of the nation under their control.
Afghans (L) crowd at the airport as US soldiers stand guard in Kabul on August 16, 2021.
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