Taliban say Afghanistan war over as president flees

Aug 16, 2021: A spokesman for Taliban political office declared the war over in Afghanistan and called for peaceful relations with the international community.

“Today is a great day for the Afghan people and the mujahideen. They have witnessed the fruits of their efforts and their sacrifices for 20 years,” Mohammad Naeem, the spokesman for the Taliban’s political office said adding,  “Thanks to God, the war is over in the country.”

Naeem said the type and form of the new regime in Afghanistan would be made clear soon, adding the Taliban did not want to live in isolation and calling for peaceful international relations.

“We have reached what we were seeking, which is the freedom of our country and the independence of our people,” he said. “We will not allow anyone to use our lands to target anyone, and we do not want to harm others.”

The Taliban have declared war on Afghanistan after their fighters entered the capital Kabul and President Ashraf Ghani left the country.

Shafiq Hamdam, a former adviser to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, slammed Ghani’s decision to flee Afghanistan on Sunday amid the Taliban’s rapid advance on Kabul.

The streets of Kabul were quiet on Monday, but there were scenes of chaos and panic at the international airport as hundreds of Afghans were anxious to leave the country. The United States and other Western nations were also struggling to evacuate their diplomats and citizens.

A spokesman for the Taliban’s political office said that the group did not want to be isolated and that the type and shape of the new government in Afghanistan would be clarified soon. Muhammad Naeem also called for peaceful international relations.

“Thank God the war in the country is over,” he said. “We have reached what we were looking for, which is the freedom of our country and the freedom of our people,” he added. “We will not allow anyone to use our land to target anyone, and we do not want to harm others.”

The UN Security Council will discuss the situation in Afghanistan on Monday.

The Pentagon and the US Department of State said they are taking steps to secure Kabul’s international airport to enable the safe departure of thousands of US and allied personnel from Afghanistan via civilian and military flights.

In a joint statement on Sunday night, the agencies said the US security presence will have expanded to nearly 6,000 troops over the next two days, with a “mission focused solely on facilitating” the departures. They will also take during air traffic control.

The New Zealand government says it is sending a C-130 Hercules military transport aircraft to Afghanistan to help evacuate its 53 civilians and dozens of Afghans and their close families who were deployed during the deployment of New Zealand troops there. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she had so far identified 37 Afghans who had helped, but that the number of evacuees would be in the hundreds once the dependents and others were added.

Defense officials say they have planned a month-long mission involving at least 40 military personnel assigned to service and protect the aircraft. Arden asked the Taliban to allow people to leave peacefully: “The whole world is watching,” she said.

Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, has said it has completed the withdrawal of all its diplomats from Kabul.

US forces fired in the air at Kabul’s airport to prevent hundreds of civilians running onto the tarmac, according to an official and a witness.

Major airlines, including United Airlines, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, have said they are not using Afghan airspace after the Taliban took control of Kabul. A spokesman for the United Nations said the change affected the airline’s many flights from the United States to India.

A spokesman for the US Department of State said the evacuation of US staff from its embassy in Kabul is now complete.

“We can confirm that the safe evacuation of all Embassy personnel is now complete. All Embassy personnel are located on the premises of Hamid Karzai International Airport, whose perimeter is secured by the US Military,” Ned Price wrote in a statement.

Flight-tracking website FlightRadar24 showed few commercial flights over Afghanistan at 03:00 GMT on Monday but many planes flying over neighbouring Pakistan and Iran.

Emirates airline  has suspended flights to the Afghan capital until further the notice, the airline said on its website.

A spokesman for the Taliban said “the situation in Kabul is normal” and that its fighters “are busy providing security”.

In a Twitter post, Zabihullah Mujahid also said the Taliban has deployed special units to different parts of Kabul and that the “general public is happy with the arrival of the Mujahideen and satisfied with the security”.

In an earlier tweet, Mujahid had said the Taliban have assured all embassies that foreign nationals in Kabul will not face any danger.

Matt Zeller, a US veteran of the Afghan war, said some 44,000 Afghans who helped Washington during the 20-year conflict are outside of Kabul and require urgent evacuation. Zeller, who co-founded No One Left Behind, a charity that helps Afghans settle in the US, said President Joe Biden must order US troops to secure the Kabul airport.

The statement form US secy of state Anthony Blinken says that those in power and authority across the country “bear responsibility  and accountability for the protection of human life and property, and for the immediate restoration of security and civil order.”

It added: “Afghans and international citizens who wish to depart must be allowed to do so; roads, airports and border crossing must remain open, and calm must be maintained.

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