(Kabul) The Taliban captured the city of Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday morning, as we learned from local residents, leaving only the capital Kabul as a large city that is still controlled by the government.
Posted on Aug 14, 2021 at 7:41 am Updated at 11:30 pm
Usman SHARIFI Agence France-Presse
“We woke up this morning with the white Taliban flags all over the city. You are in town. They entered without a fight, ”said Ahmad Wali, a resident of Jalalabad.
The Taliban also professed to take the city. “A few moments ago the mujahideen invaded Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar Province. All areas are now under their control, ”said Zabihullah Mujahid, one of their spokesmen.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has promised to continue the fight against the insurgents who continue to approach the almost encircled capital, where residents do not hide their fear of the future.
Faced with the collapse of the Afghan army, US President Joe Biden has increased the military deployment at Kabul airport to 5,000 soldiers to evacuate US diplomats and Afghan civilians who have cooperated with the US and fear for their lives, and threatens the Taliban with them a “quick and strong” response in the event of an attack on American interests.
The Taliban “parade on their vehicles and motorcycles and shoot in the air to celebrate the capture of the city,” said a resident of Mazar-i-Sharif, Atiqullah Ghayor, who lives near the famous Blue Mosque, on Saturday evening.
After the withdrawal of the Afghan armed forces, the Taliban entered the fourth largest city in the country (500,000 inhabitants) “without really meeting any resistance”. A story that is confirmed by other residents of the city.
“The fighters [talibans] Mazar-i-Sharif confiscated. All official buildings […] are under their control, ”the insurgents said in a statement.
A relative of the second stating that their troops had withdrawn about sixty kilometers from the city.
Atta Mohammad Noor later claimed on Twitter that they were victims of the betrayal of the Afghan army. “I have a lot of unsaid stories that I will share in due course,” he added, adding that he is now in a “safe place”.
Earlier on Saturday, President Ghani had described the “remobilization of our security and defense forces” as “priority number one”. However, he made no allusion to a possible resignation that some expected or wanted.
The military situation is critical for those in power. In just over a week, the Taliban took over almost all of northern, western and southern Afghanistan and reached the gates of Kabul.
On Saturday they had already conquered the Kunar province in the east and could soon approach Kabul from the north, south and east.
Besides Kabul, Jalalabad, the large eastern city with 280,000 inhabitants, is the only major city still controlled by the government.
There is fear among the residents of Kabul and the tens of thousands of people who have fled their homes to the capital in recent weeks.
“I cry day and night when I see the Taliban force young girls to marry their fighters,” said Muzhda, 35, a single woman who traveled north with her two sisters from Parwan province.
“I’ve turned down marriage proposals in the past […] If the Taliban come and force me to marry them, I’ll kill myself, ”she warns.
Dawood Hotak, 28, a trader from Kabul, is also worried “about the future” of his younger sisters and doesn’t know “what will happen to them”.
The streets of the capital were usually busy on Saturday, but long lines could be seen at the bank exits.
Many Afghans – especially women – who are used to the freedom they have acquired in the last 20 years fear a return to power by the Taliban, who advocate an ultra-rigorous version of Islamic law.
Shooting could also be heard from Pul-e-Charkhi prison on the outskirts of Kabul, residents of the area said, fearing a possible mutiny.
A helicopter ballet flew over Kabul on Saturday, between the airport and the American embassy, a gigantic complex located in the ultra-fortified “green zone” in the center of the capital.
The first naval contingents arrived to ensure the evacuation of diplomatic personnel and Afghans who worked for the United States and feared retaliation by the Taliban.
The Pentagon estimates the total number of people to be evacuated at around 30,000.
The US embassy has ordered its employees to destroy sensitive US documents and symbols that the Taliban could use “for propaganda purposes”.
London also announced the relocation of 600 soldiers to help British nationals leave the country.
Several Western countries will reduce their presence to the bare minimum or even close their embassies temporarily.
The Taliban launched their offensive in May when US President Joe Biden confirmed the withdrawal of the last foreign troops from the country, which should be completed by August 31.
Joe Biden has not regretted his decision since then, although the rate at which the Afghan army fell apart surprised and disappointed Americans, who had spent more than $ 1 trillion on training and equipment.
“One or five more years of US military presence would have made no difference if the Afghan army cannot or does not want to defend its own country,” he said in a statement.
“I am the fourth president to lead a US military presence in Afghanistan – two Republicans, two Democrats,” he added. “I will not bequeath this war to a fifth person.”