Afghanistan war: Flights resume at Kabul airport

Afghan passengers wait to leave the Kabul airport in Kabul on 16 August 2021, after a stunningly swift end to Afghanistan’s 20-year war, as thousands of people mobbed the city’s airport trying to flee the Taliban’s feared hardline brand of Islamist rule. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Evacuation flights at Kabul airport resumed, hours after desperate Afghans surrounded passenger jets and tried to force themselves onto a plane overnight. It has happened as panic spread after the Taliban took control of the capital 20 years after having been toppled by US forces.

A video showed a US military aircraft trying to take flight as dozens of Afghans sprinted alongside, apparently in an attempt to stop it from taking off without them. Some even climbed aboard, clinging to the outside as the aircraft gained speed.

Biden on the US withdrawal from Afghanistan

 In a speech on Monday after the Taliban took over Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan, US  President Joe Biden said, “I stand squarely behind my decision” to withdraw US troops from the country.

Biden said, “When I came into office, I inherited a deal that President Trump negotiated with the Taliban. Under his agreement, US forces would be out of Afghanistan by May 1, 2021, just a little over three months after I took office. US forces had already drawn down during the Trump administration from roughly 15,500 American forces to 2,500 troops in country, and the Taliban was at its strongest militarily since 2001.

The choice I had to make, as your president, was easier to follow through on that agreement or be prepared to go back to fighting the Taliban in the middle of the Spring fighting season. There would have been no cease fire after May 1. There was no agreement, protecting our forces after May 1.

There was no status quo of stability without American casualties after May 1. There was only a cold reality of either following through on the agreement to withdraw our forces, or escalating the conflict, and sending thousands more American troops back into combat in Afghanistan, lurching into the third decade of conflict. I stand squarely behind my decision.

After 20 years, I’ve learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw US forces. That’s why we’re still there. We were clear eyed about the risks. We planned for every contingency, but I always promised the American people that I would be straight with you. The truth is this did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated.”

 ‘There are no women in the streets’: The day life changed in Kabul

The streets of Kabul were emptied of women on Monday, the first full day of Taliban rule across Afghanistan, as Taliban gunmen patrolled in cars seized by police, confiscated guns from security guards and urged shopkeepers and government employees back to work.

Bangladesh refuses US request to shelter Afghans

The Bangladesh government has turned down a request from the United States to shelter citizens of Afghanistan who are at risk of Taliban reprisal after the hardline Islamist group took control of the war-ravaged country. “The US is a friendly state to us. They made the request and we said ‘no’,” Bangladeshi Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said on Monday.

“We’ve said we’re suffering from the Rohingya, so please don’t put us in more trouble.” The US-made the request through the diplomatic channel between Washington and Dhaka, according to him.