The Taliban have captured another city, Jalalabad without facing any resistance, leaving the capital Kabul as the last major urban area under government control. Taliban have besieged Kabul today but vowed not to capture the capital of Afghanistan by force.
The Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told media today that they (Taliban) will not take control of Kabul by force. He said the leaders of Taliban are holding dialogues with the representatives of Kabul government to decide the fate of the capital.
The key eastern city, which is also the capital of Nangarhar province, fell early on Sunday morning. It’s fall followed the Taliban’s seizure of the major northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif.
The Taliban posted photos online on Sunday showing them in the governor’s office in Jalalabad.
“We woke up this morning to the Taliban white flags all over the city,” said resident Ahmad Wali, confirming the Taliban’s social media claim. “They entered without fighting.
Abrarullah Murad, a legislator from the province said that the armed group seized Jalalabad after elders negotiated the fall of the government there.
A western security official also confirmed the fall of the city, and said it put the Taliban in control of the roads connecting Afghanistan to Pakistan.
Panic in Kabul
The Taliban have swept through the country in recent weeks as United States-led forces withdrew. It’s campaign accelerated to lightning speed in the last week, capturing Kandahar and Herat, the country’s second and third largest cities, and shocking Western countries as the Afghan military’s defences appeared to collapse.
On Saturday, Taliban fighters entered Mazar-i-Sharif virtually unopposed as security forces escaped up the highway to neighbouring Uzbekistan, about 80 km (50 miles) to the north, provincial officials said. Unverified video on social media showed Afghan army vehicles and men in uniforms crowding the iron bridge between the Afghan town of Hairatan and Uzbekistan.
Two influential militia leaders supporting the government – Atta Mohammad Noor and Abdul Rashid Dostum – also fled. Noor said on social media that the Taliban had been handed control of Balkh province, where Mazar-i-Sharif is located, due to a “conspiracy”.
As Kabul looked increasingly isolated as a government stronghold, Afghans streamed into the city, fleeing the provinces and fearing a return to the Taliban’s oppressive rule.
Al Jazeera’s Charlotte Bellis said, “As of now, Kabul is the last big city the government still holds. It is unbelievable to think that nine days ago, the Taliban did not hold a single provincial capital and had not done so in the past five years,” she said.
“There is a lot of panic in Kabul. The city has swelled with tens of thousands of people from the provinces fleeing here. There’s also been a run on the banks. Prices have gone up, including of fuel and food.”
In a statement late on Saturday, the Taliban said its rapid gains showed it was popularly accepted by the Afghan people and reassured both Afghans and foreigners that they would be safe.
The Islamic Emirate (Taliban) “will, as always, protect their life, property and honour and create a peaceful and secure environment for its beloved nation,” it said, adding that diplomats and aid workers would also face no problems.
Despite the Taliban’s assurances, Western governments were accelerating plans to evacuate embassy staff and citizens, as well as Afghans who had worked for them.
US President Joe Biden on Saturday authorised the deployment of 5,000 troops to help evacuate citizens and ensure an “orderly and safe” drawdown of US military personnel.
Biden said his administration had told Taliban officials in Qatar that any action that put US personnel at risk “will be met with a swift and strong US military response”.