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women beg US soldiers for help through the fence of Kabul airport as Taliban fire into the air and whip people to control crowds - while UK will evacuate 1,000 today... but White House FAILS to guarantee it will get citizens out 
Afghan women beg US soldiers for help through the fence of Kabul airport as Taliban fire into the air and whip people to control crowds – while UK will evacuate 1,000 today… but White House FAILS to guarantee it will get citizens out

  • Tens of thousands of desperate Afghans are trying to evacuate from Kabul’s airport, but are being held back by a Taliban ring of steel with barely anybody being allowed through 
  • US general warns ‘overwhelming force’ will be used if Taliban interfere with Kabul evacuation as airport is all but closed off and women beg soldiers for help through gates… while flights take off EMPTY 
  • Chaos returned to Kabul airport today as screams mixed with gunfire amid desperate rush out of Afghanistan 
  • Women were filmed pleading with US troops to let them on evacuation flights, saying ‘Taliban are coming’ 
  • Meanwhile gunshots were fired over the heads of hundreds of people gathered at airport’s north entrance 
  • US and UK continue to pledge that thousands of people will be allowed to board flights out of the country 
  • But Taliban gunmen have now surrounded the airport, with those on the ground saying they are deciding who stays and who leaves – with some legitimate visa holders in hiding for fear they will be targeted 

Panicked screams mixed with the sound of gunfire at Kabul airport today amid fresh chaos as tens of thousands of Afghans desperate to escape Taliban rule pleaded with troops to be allowed on the only planes out of the country.

Women were filmed reaching their hands through iron railings towards US troops while screaming ‘the Taliban are coming’ in footage being circulated on Afghan social media accounts.

It is thought the footage was filmed at the northern military side of Hamid Karzai airport, where around 25,000 people are gathered, with more footage revealing Taliban guards firing over the heads of men, women and children crouched in the road overnight.

Meanwhile those trying to get into the civilian south side of the airport – where another 25,000 are thought to have massed – faced patrols of Taliban gunmen on the roads leading up to the airport, before being funnelled between concrete barriers towards a large metal gate under the watchful eye of Taliban gunmen.

Britain is attempting to fly 1,000 people out of the airport today on seven flights, according to head of the armed forces General Sir Nick Carter, who warned the next 24 hours are ‘critical’ for getting people out of the country.

Meanwhile Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged to take on 25,000 Afghan refugees – a promise mirrored by the likes of Canada which says it will take 20,000,Germany which will take 10,000, and the US which says 80,000 visas may be issued – though serious questions are being asked over whether the targets are realistic.

At the current rate of evacuation – just a few hundred people each day – it would take months to evacuate that number, assuming all of those people can even reach the airport and convince guards to allow them in.

This morning in the Commons, Sir Keir Starmer confronted Mr Johnson with reports from NGOs that an evacuation plane left Kabul airport today with hardly any passengers because evacuees could not reach it.

Witnesses at the airport gates today said that very few people were being allowed through, with dozens trying to push through the gate each time it was opened – prompting nervy guard to fire into the air.

Once on the other side of the gate, a further four checkpoints await with one airport employee saying it took them two days to pass all the way through.

A source at the airport told MailOnline that some people trying to get into the airport are carrying documents, mostly for nearby Gulf states, but the vast majority were terrified citizens with no paperwork who hoped to get out of the country after seeing images of people running on to American planes on the news.

With Taliban fighters now effectively providing airport security. other sources have told MailOnline that translators and others with legitimate visas are too afraid to risk trying to get to the runway – fearing the Islamists will simply haul them away.

Some who have braved the gates told of how they were crushed, trampled and molested amid the crowds without making it on to a flight. Others said Taliban fighters beat the crowd with sticks, lengths of rubber hose, knotted rope, and rifle butts, often pointing guns at people and on at least on occasion opening fire.

In a sign of how dire the situation has become, White House spokesman Jen Psaki was forced to admit Tuesday that there is no guarantee that all US citizens and visa holders will be able to leave the country before troops pull out on August 31.

Women were filmed pleading with US troops that the 'Taliban are coming' in footage that appeared to have been taken at Kabul airport on Wednesday as thousands of desperate Afghans try to flee Islamist rule

Women were filmed pleading with US troops that the ‘Taliban are coming’ in footage that appeared to have been taken at Kabul airport on Wednesday as thousands of desperate Afghans try to flee Islamist rule
Taliban gunmen have surrounded the airport (pictured) with gunshots fired over the heads of arriving passengers, with British forces admitting that evacuations are only taking place with their 'consent'

Taliban gunmen have surrounded the airport (pictured) with gunshots fired over the heads of arriving passengers, with British forces admitting that evacuations are only taking place with their ‘consent’
Taliban fighters have now encircled the airport in Kabul, setting up checkpoints on both the civilian south side of the airport and the military north side, with gunshots fired in both locations to keep crowds back

Taliban fighters have now encircled the airport in Kabul, setting up checkpoints on both the civilian south side of the airport and the military north side, with gunshots fired in both locations to keep crowds back
While thousands of people have arrived at Kabul airport trying to get on flights out of the country (pictured), some western visa holders on the ground have said they are in hiding nearby for fear Taliban gunmen will target them

While thousands of people have arrived at Kabul airport trying to get on flights out of the country (pictured), some western visa holders on the ground have said they are in hiding nearby for fear Taliban gunmen will target them
Taliban gunmen patrol through crowds of desperate Afghans at Kabul airport today, as people try to board planes out of the country fearing for their safety under Islamist rule

Taliban gunmen patrol through crowds of desperate Afghans at Kabul airport today, as people try to board planes out of the country fearing for their safety under Islamist rule
Crowds at north entrance

Crowds at north entrance
Crowds at north entrance

Crowds at north entrance
Shots are fired over the heads of terrified Afghan civilians by nervous Taliban guards at the northern side of Kabul airport overnight, as civilians try to get inside

Shots are fired over the heads of terrified Afghan civilians by nervous Taliban guards at the northern side of Kabul airport overnight, as civilians try to get inside
Cars are seen parked along a road leading to the military northern side of Afghanistan's Haid Karzai airport overnight as an estimated 50,000 people try to board flights out of the country

Cars are seen parked along a road leading to the military northern side of Afghanistan’s Haid Karzai airport overnight as an estimated 50,000 people try to board flights out of the country
Taliban gunmen opened fire on crowds late Tuesday, with images showing a bloodied child being carried by a man while a woman lay wounded in the road

Taliban gunmen opened fire on crowds late Tuesday, with images showing a bloodied child being carried by a man while a woman lay wounded in the road

‘If I hear once more that the airport is safe – it’s not’: Westerners trying to flee Kabul tell of being groped and crushed while trying to navigate impassable melee of at Taliban checkpoints

Western nationals trying to flee Kabul have described being crushed and groped during a stampede of Afghans held at Taliban checkpoints outside the airstrip providing evacuation flights as Afghanistan is taken over by the Islamist terror group.

Armed militants have surrounded the capital’s airport and seized control of all access points, meaning they they can decide who stays and who leaves the Middle Eastern state as the Taliban plunge Afghanistan back into what locals and many Western governments fear will be Islamic tyranny.

Ex-Royal Marine commando Paul ‘Pen’ Farthing described how his wife and pregnant employee, from whom he has been separated, had been ‘crushed, groped and pushed’ by crowds outside the airport – and had been denied entry by British and US troops stationed there.

In videos posted to Facebook, Farthing said they are now in a secure British location, but furiously urged Boris Johnson to ‘get his s**t together’ and slammed ‘snake’ Joe Biden’s ‘absolutely disgusting’ withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan following the 20-year Western intervention.

He also took fire at the British troops who allegedly prevented his wife from entering Kabul airport, adding: ‘They should not be wearing the beret of Her Majesty’s British forces if they’re not prepared to open that gate for a pregnant woman.’

One female student also described how she feared she would be crushed to death by panicking crowds at Kabul airport. Speaking to MailOnline, Aisha Ahmad – who studies in the capital – said: ‘People had heard that the Americans were letting people onto the aircraft to get them out of the country.

‘I didn’t believe it at first, but then I went to the airport and saw that people had been allowed onto the tarmac without any checks, so I thought maybe it was true.

‘There were thousands of people inside the airport. Then at one point we were all pushed back by the Taliban police to get us out of the airport and women and children were trampled under people’s feet.

‘I couldn’t breathe in the crush and I really thought I was going to die. My feet are all swollen and covered in bruises. We thought there was a flight going to Germany which we might get on, but in the end they only took German nationals on board.’

‘Our focus right now is on the task at hand, and that is day by day getting as many American citizens, SIV applicants, as many of the vulnerable population who are eligible to be evacuated to the airport and out on planes,’ she told a press conference.

Flights that were supposed to be carrying thousands of people out of the country each day have so-far been taking off with just a few hundred aboard, with the UK having evacuated just 306 citizens and 2,052 Afghans so far – with thousands more waiting.

At least 12 military flights took off from Kabul yesterday, including three UK planes as the Ministry of Defence aims to ferry up to 7,000 Britons and Afghan allies out. Most are heading to other stable parts of the Middle East, where the passengers catch charter flights back to Britain.

Some 370 UK embassy staff and British nationals were flown out by the RAF on Sunday and Monday, adding to the 289 Afghan nationals transported last week.

There are at least 56,000 people who need evacuating from Afghanistan – including 22,000 flying on US special immigrant visas, 4,000 British nationals, 10,000 refugees Germany has said it will accept, and 20,000 bound for Canada. In reality, that number is likely to be far higher once diplomatic staff from other countries with relations with Afghanistan’s former government are taken into account.

The US said it may issue 80,000 special immigrant visas to those who helped with combat operations and are likely to face revenge attacks from the Taliban, while 7,500 troops guarding the airport – including 6,000 Americans and smaller numbers of British, Turkish and Australians – will also need to leave.

Spain, France and India confirmed their diplomatic staff were evacuated yesterday. Russia and Indonesia said their embassies will be partially evacuated, while the EU mission said staff including its ambassador Andreas Von Brandt are still in the country and will need to leave.

Tempers were already fraying around the airport on Tuesday as gunmen opened fire into crowds, with harrowing images showing a young child with a bloodied head being carried by a man while a woman lay wounded in the road behind them.

The US army’s General Frank McKenzie is leading 6,000 US troops and 900 British soldiers who are trying to evacuate as many as 50,000 Afghan refugees and thousands of other foreign citizens, including aid workers and diplomats, who live in Kabul.

For the moment, the Taliban say they are giving ‘amnesty’ to foreigners who wish to leave. But amid tense scenes at the capital, which fell to insurgents with astonishing rapidity, fears are growing that the tentative calm could fall apart at any moment.

Vice Admiral Sir Ben Key, who is running the British evacuation operation, told the BBC the UK will be bringing back as many people as it can, as quickly as possible, until either demand is met or ‘the security situation means that we’re no longer operating with consent’.

But eligible individuals have to make the trip to the airport themselves when called to do so, and the Taliban now control the access points, he added.

Sir Ben said that his forces face a race against time, and they are ‘alive to the uncertainty’ of the situation.

Tories hammered Boris Johnson over the ‘catastrophic failure’ in Afghanistan today – as the PM swiped at Joe Biden saying the ‘successful’ Afghan mission could not continue without ‘American might’.

As the desperate evacuation effort continues in Kabul, the PM defended his handling of the chaos insisting there was a ‘hard reality’ as a result of the US stance.

Mr Johnson told the recalled chamber – packed out for the first time since last year after Covid restrictions were dropped – that the ‘sacrifice’ of British troops was ‘seared into our national consciousness’. He said the ‘core mission’ had been achieved as Afghanistan had not been a hotbed for terrorism.

However, he was immediately assailed by Tories, with defence committee chair Tobias Ellwood saying the West had ‘ceded the country to the very insurgents we went to defeat’. Theresa May said Afghanistan would now be a breeding ground for extremism, accusing the PM of operating ‘on a wing and a prayer’ and hoping it would be ‘alright on the night’. Former chief whip Mark Harper said there had been a ‘catastrophic failure’.

Labour leader Keir Starmer said the premier had displayed ‘staggering complacency’, pointing out that his last visit to Afghanistan as Foreign Secretary in 2018 had been a ploy to avoid a vote on Heathrow Airport expansion.

There were also calls for the government to go further and faster in providing safe haven for Afghans who face the threat of persecution under the new Taliban regime. Labour’s Chris Bryant said only 5,000 of 20,000 refugees were set to be accepted this year, raging that the rest were being asked to ‘hang around and wait until they have been executed’.

Gen. McKenzie, whose forces now operate in a country almost completely dominated by the Taliban, has warned that his troops will respond forcefully to defend the airport if necessary, as US troops, backed by British SAS and Royal Marines special forces, guard the perimeter with snipers on rooftops, and machine gunners and armored cars guard the runway.

In other developments:

  • An exclusive poll for the Mail revealed that the British public believe Mr Biden is most to blame for the crisis, and two-thirds say the decision to pull out of Afghanistan was wrong;
  • The poll also showed that the public fear the turmoil will lead to fresh terror attacks on our soil;
  • The Taliban’s leaders claimed they would ‘like to live peacefully’;
  • Mr Johnson suggested the new Taliban government could be recognised internationally if it upheld human rights standards;
  • Emmanuel Macron was under fire after he said France would ‘protect’ itself from migrants fleeing the crisis;
  • It was claimed the Foreign Office had pulled all of its diplomats out of Kabul apart from the ambassador himself – creating havoc for Afghan interpreters wanting to leave;
  • Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab conceded he would not have left the UK for a five-star Crete holiday had he known what would unfold over the weekend;
  • It emerged that Afghans who apply to come to Britain are being rigorously checked for links with radical Islamist groups and crime;
  • The Archbishop of Canterbury condemned the ‘tragic failures’ in Afghanistan and called for rapid humanitarian help for its people.

AIRPORT SECURITY: TROOPS STATIONED AT KABUL AIRSTRIP

US 

Major General Hank Taylor said there were 2,500 troops at the airport on Monday, with 3,000 to 3,500 due to arrive yesterday – bringing the total to 6,000

UK 

The UK had around 700 troops led by members of 16 Air Assault Brigade (The Paras), another 200 were announced last night – bringing the total to 900 soldiers

Turkey 

Turkey, which is a Nato member, has around 600 soldiers in Kabul to assist with the evacuation.

It had offered to keep them in the city to operate the airport once the US pulls out, but dropped those plans following the collapse of the Afghan government.

Australia

Canberra announced plans to send an evacuation force of 250 troops to Afghanistan on Monday to help its embassy staff and Afghan nationals.

Smaller numbers of FRENCH, POLISH and SPANISH troops have arrived to help their diplomats return.

The White House today confirmed that the Taliban had promised that civilians could travel safely to the Kabul airport, but reports of insurgents beating and shooting Afghans trying to enter could rattle the uneasy deal between the country’s new rulers and their Western adversaries.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid was keen to present the Islamists as a reformed group at a press conference on Monday, pledging to safeguard women’s rights, stop reprisal attacks, wipe out the drugs trade, and live in peace will allies and enemies alike.

But that paper-thin veneer was already being torn up on Tuesday as video emerged showing the Taliban tarring alleged thieves and strapping them to trucks to be paraded through Kabul, firing at crowds trying to escape to the US-controlled airport and going house-to-house to round up looters.

The so-called ‘Angels of Salvation’ are dragging suspects from their homes at gunpoint and lining them against walls after chaos broke out in Kabul following the Taliban takeover.

Footage shows an alleged car thief with his face covered in black tar and strapped up to the back of a truck, with his hands tied behind his back as people gather around to gawp.

A traffic cop stands nearby and waves through traffic, seemingly unperturbed or unable to prevent the rough justice as commotion builds around the accused man.

Other footage shows Taliban fighters outside Kabul airport wielding AK-47s and rocket launchers, marching towards the terrified crowds and firing warning shots into the air.

Former civil servants and those who worked for foreign countries are prisoners in their own homes and living in fear as the Taliban go from house-to-house to interrogate people on who they are and what they do.

An ex-interpreter reported seeing his house being raided via an app on his phone as he remains holed up in a safehouse.

Australia on Wednesday said it had no plans to allow in refugees and cast doubt on the promises being made by other nations.

Australia plans to provide just 3,000 Afghans with visas over a year, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

‘I note that some are talking about figures of 20,000 but can I tell you there are no clear plans about that. Australia is not going into that territory,’ he told a news conference.

Australia deployed 39,000 troops over two decades as part of US and NATO-led operations in Afghanistan.

As Australia’s air force evacuated 26 people – including Australian and Afghan citizens – in a first flight from Kabul, Defence Minister Peter Dutton cast doubt on the capacity of other countries to honour their pledges.

‘I don’t think that, firstly, is going to happen and, secondly, there is no way in the world you can guarantee the security arrangements with that sort of movement of people,’ Dutton told the national broadcaster ABC.

‘Let’s see whether people put their money where their mouth is,’ he said.

Truck-loads of Taliban fighters armed with AK-47s and rocket launchers now wait outside the airport and man the gates into it, as their blood-soaked organisation returns to power following a 20-year conflict with a global superpower that had sought to destroy them.

A Taliban gunman speaks with a driver along the main road to Hamid Karzai airport, where evacuation flights are taking place

A Taliban gunman speaks with a driver along the main road to Hamid Karzai airport, where evacuation flights are taking place
Taliban fighters are pictured in the Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood of Kabul, which sits along one of the main roads leading to the airport, carrying out checks on those that pass through

Taliban fighters are pictured in the Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood of Kabul, which sits along one of the main roads leading to the airport, carrying out checks on those that pass through
Taliban fighters pose for photograph in Wazir Akbar Khan in the city of Kabul along one of the main roads to the airport

Taliban fighters pose for photograph in Wazir Akbar Khan in the city of Kabul along one of the main roads to the airport
British forces say evacuation flights are happening with 'consent' of the Taliban, as fighters were pictured patrolling one of the main roads to the airport today (pictured)

British forces say evacuation flights are happening with ‘consent’ of the Taliban, as fighters were pictured patrolling one of the main roads to the airport today (pictured)
A Taliban fighter stands guard at a checkpoint in Wazir Akbar Khan in the city of Kabul, Afghanistan

A Taliban fighter stands guard at a checkpoint in Wazir Akbar Khan in the city of Kabul, Afghanistan
The Taliban has insisted there will be total amnesty for those who fought against them in Afghanistan and that evacuation flights will be protected, but there have been reports of gunmen firing into crowds

The Taliban has insisted there will be total amnesty for those who fought against them in Afghanistan and that evacuation flights will be protected, but there have been reports of gunmen firing into crowds

The race to get out of Kabul: What is the situation in Afghanistan and how many people are being evacuated?

The Taliban have seized power in Afghanistan two weeks before the US was set to complete its troop withdrawal after a costly 20-year war. Here is the latest:

  • The Taliban, who ran Afghanistan in the late 1990s, have again taken control after the Western-backed government that has run it for 20 years collapsed
  • The Taliban’s deputy leader and co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar arrived in Kandahar Tuesday after 20 years of exile, landing in the insurgent group’s former capital just days after they took control of the country.
  • It comes as the Taliban held a press conference in which it insisted it would respect women’s rights – but women’s rights but ‘within Islamic law’
  • They insisted would not exact revenge, which the group insisted they ‘want to live peacefully’ after taking control of Afghanistan
  • Thousands of people are racing to Kabul Airport which is one of the last routes out of the country amid fears the Taliban could carry out revenge attacks
  • Tens of thousands of people need evacuating – including some 22,000 on US special immigrant visas, 6,000-7,000 British nationals and Afghan allies, and 10,000 refugees that Germany has said it will accept
  • Some people are so desperate that they clung to the side of a military jet as it took off and then plunged to their deaths yesterday – at least seven died
  • At least 12 military flights took off from Kabul today
  • Britain has carried out three MoD military flights so far today amid hopes they can get 6,000-7,000 people out in total
  • RAF planes are taking people to other stable parts of the Middle East where they can get charter flights back to the UK
  • Eleven aircraft of five different types are believed to be shuttling in and out of Kabul – the RAF Voyager Tanker (Airbus A330 MRTT), Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, Lockheed C-130 Hercules and Airbus A400M Atlas
  • 900 British armed forces are in Afghanistan to bring UK nationals home and secure safety of some Afghans
  • 370 UK embassy staff and British nationals were flown out by the MoD on Sunday and yesterday, while 289 Afghan nationals were taken out last week
  • A further 350 British and Afghans will be taken out of the country in the next 24 hours, UK Government says
  • The US may issue up 80,000 special immigrant visas to those who helped with its combat operations
  • 7,500 troops currently guarding the airport – including 6,000 Americans and smaller numbers of British, Turkish and Australians – will also need to leave
  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called for G7 leaders to hold a virtual meeting ‘in the coming days’
  • Defence Minister Ben Wallace says the Taliban takeover is a ‘failure of the international community’
  • Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says UK must work with ‘challenging’ partners on dealing with Taliban
  • US President Joe Biden called the situation ‘gut-wrenching’ but rejected blame for what’s happening
  • The Taliban now say they want to form an ‘inclusive, Islamic government’ with other factions – and are holding negotiations with senior politicians
  • Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has already fled the country after the Taliban reached Kabul on Sunday

As of Tuesday afternoon, 12 flights had taken off, many heading to nearby cities like Doha, while others have landed at RAF bases in Cyprus.

But tens of thousands of desperate civilians who worked for the coalition are still stuck in Kabul and facing certain death unless they can be flown out of the country.

The Pentagon says it is aiming to have a flight out of Kabul every hour so that it can evacuate 9,000 people per day.

It comes after Taliban leaders held an extraordinary press conference on Tuesday to proclaim the group’s return to government and to portray the outfit as a new, modernised force.

During an astonishing 40-minute appearance, they said there would no revenge attacks, their opponents will be ‘pardoned’ and women will be allowed to work and study as a ‘very important part of society’.

But on the streets of Kabul, the reality of life under Taliban rule was setting in, with ‘terrified’ women reportedly confined to their homes, and militants going door to door hunting for ex-government workers.

This year alone, the Taliban have murdered seven Coalition Forces translators, with many more wounded. The father of a US translator was also shot dead yesterday according to his family.

Around 1,700 so-called locally employed staff who worked with British forces and their family members have now been approved to come to the UK. A further 200 are having their claims assessed.

But while many are at Kabul airport waiting for a flight out, many more are in hiding in the city or elsewhere in the country, too terrified to brave the streets. As the Taliban tighten their grip, they face an uncertain future.

Last night, an interpreter called Ahmed shared his harrowing story. He said: ‘My wife and I were hiding in the basement of a storeroom, but the man who gave us shelter got scared when the Taliban were nearby and asked us to leave.

‘We are about half a mile from the airport. Now we have found somewhere else, a private place. I have to speak quietly because the Taliban checkpoint is nearby. Other interpreters are hiding nearby, they have children with them, so it is worse for them.

‘The Taliban have positioned their gunmen at the airport and are demanding to see paperwork and visas. Apparently they let you through if your papers are valid but I do not trust them. A mistake now could cost us our lives.’

Remarkably, in spite of the presence of 7,000 elite US troops and 900 British Special Forces and Paratroopers at Hamid Karzai International Airport, the Taliban are calling the shots.

Admiral Key said the Taliban could withdraw their consent at any time. He added: ‘We have to be pragmatic and honest. The Taliban are controlling what and how much we can achieve. We do not know how long we are going to have to do this and we may find the security situation makes it untenable for us to continue to evacuate people.

‘The Taliban are providing the security tapestry around Kabul now – they are the providers of security, not us. At the moment we have their consent. They are happy so long as we are going about our business [of withdrawing].’

The revelation that the Taliban are already dictating terms last night caused further anxiety among those waiting for flights to the UK. Only one mercy mission left Kabul yesterday – an RAF Voyager aircraft carrying 250 passengers which was due to touch down at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire last night.

It is not known how many of those on board were eligible Afghans and how many were UK passport-holders.

Footage shows an alleged car thief with his face covered in black tar and strapped up to the back of a truck, with his hands tied behind his back as people gather around to gawp.

Footage shows an alleged car thief with his face covered in black tar and strapped up to the back of a truck, with his hands tied behind his back as people gather around to gawp.
A traffic cop stands nearby and waves through traffic, seemingly unperturbed by the commotion around the accused man.

A traffic cop stands nearby and waves through traffic, seemingly unperturbed by the commotion around the accused man.
An alleged looter is placed up against a wall after he was dragged out of his house by the Islamist 'Angels of Salvation'

An alleged looter is placed up against a wall after he was dragged out of his house by the Islamist ‘Angels of Salvation’
A militant trains a gun on an alleged thief

A militant trains a gun on an alleged thief
A Taliban fighter whacks a boy across the back of the thighs as families cower under a bush

A Taliban fighter whacks a boy across the back of the thighs as families cower under a bush
A statue of political leader Abdul Ali Mazari, who was murdered by the Taliban in 1995, was destroyed

A statue of political leader Abdul Ali Mazari, who was murdered by the Taliban in 1995, was destroyed
The statue before it was vandalised

The statue before it was vandalised

FALL OF KABUL: A TIMELINE OF THE TALIBAN’S FAST ADVANCE AFTER 40 YEARS OF CONFLICT

Feb. 29, 2020 Trump negotiates deal with the Taliban setting U.S. withdrawal date for May 1, 2021

Nov. 17, 2020 Pentagon announces it will reduce troop levels to 2500 in Afghanistan

Jan. 15, 2020 Inspector general reveals ‘hubris and mendacity’ of U.S. efforts in Afghanistan

Feb 3. 2021 Afghan Study Group report warns against withdrawing  ‘irresponsibly’

March Military command makes last-ditch effort to talk Biden out of withdrawal

April 14 Biden announces withdrawal will be completed by Sept. 11

May 4 – Taliban fighters launch a major offensive on Afghan forces in southern Helmand province. They also attack in at least six other provinces

May 11 – The Taliban capture Nerkh district just outside the capital Kabul as violence intensifies across the country

June 7 – Senior government officials say more than 150 Afghan soldiers are killed in 24 hours as fighting worsens. They add that fighting is raging in 26 of the country’s 34 provinces

June 22 – Taliban fighters launch a series of attacks in the north of the country, far from their traditional strongholds in the south. The UN envoy for Afghanistan says they have taken more than 50 of 370 districts

July 2 – The U.S. evacuates Bagram Airfield in the middle of the night

July 5 – The Taliban say they could present a written peace proposal to the Afghan government as soon as August

July 21 – Taliban insurgents control about a half of the country’s districts, according to the senior U.S. general, underlining the scale and speed of their advance

July 25 – The United States vows to continue to support Afghan troops “in the coming weeks” with intensified airstrikes to help them counter Taliban attacks

July 26 – The United Nations says nearly 2,400 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in May and June in escalating violence, the highest number for those months since records started in 2009

Aug. 6 – Zaranj in the south of the country becomes the first provincial capital to fall to the Taliban in years. Many more are to follow in the ensuing days, including the prized city of Kunduz in the north

Aug. 13 – Pentagon insists Kabul is not under imminent threat

Aug. 14 – The Taliban take the major northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif and, with little resistance, Pul-e-Alam, capital of Logar province just 70 km (40 miles) south of Kabul. The United States sends more troops to help evacuate its civilians from Kabul as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani says he is consulting with local and international partners on next steps

Aug. 15 – The Taliban take the key eastern city of Jalalabad without a fight, effectively surrounding Kabul

Taliban insurgents enter Kabul, an interior ministry official says, as the United States evacuate diplomats from its embassy by helicopter

Last night, former translator Farid, 33, described the ‘nightmare’ being experienced by those stranded in Kabul. He said: ‘It is terrifying, they are on every street. This is their last chance to get us. Taliban fighters are coming to Kabul from Helmand province.

‘If they recognise us they will not be waving us through their checkpoints. They are going from house to house asking if people know any government workers and people who worked for Western forces.’

Mr Johnson suggested last night there could be a way for the Taliban to win recognition from the international community.

A Downing Street spokesman said: ‘He said any legitimacy of any future Taliban government will be subject to them upholding internationally agreed standards on human rights and inclusivity.’

Western nationals trying to flee Kabul have described being crushed and groped during a stampede of Afghans held at Taliban checkpoints outside the airstrip providing evacuation flights as Afghanistan is taken over by the Islamist terror group.

A young female student has told MailOnline how she feared she would be crushed to death at Kabul Airport today as thousands of people desperate to board a flight were pushed by police out of the area, causing a stampede.

While some order was restored inside the airport following yesterday’s scenes of pandemonium on the runway, Aisha Ahmad said chaos still reigned outside.

‘People had heard that the Americans were letting people onto the aircraft to get them out of the country,’ she said.

‘I didn’t believe it at first, but then I went to the airport and saw that people had been allowed onto the tarmac without any checks, so I thought maybe it was true.

‘There were thousands of people inside the airport,’ said Aisha, 22, ‘Then at one point we were all pushed back by the Taliban police to get us out of the airport and women and children were trampled under people’s feet.

‘I couldn’t breathe in the crush and I really thought I was going to die. My feet are all swollen and covered in bruises. We thought there was a flight going to Germany which we might get on, but in the end they only took German nationals on board.’

‘From what I can see in the media, the situation inside the perimeter has calmed down a bit, but that has just transferred the problem outside onto the streets. People are so desperate.’

Aisha, who studies at Kabul University, said she was desperate to leave her country after receiving ‘serious threats’ because of posts on her Twitter feed.

She changed her profile photo to one of former law student Breshna Musazai, who was shot twice by the Taliban in 2016 but survived and more recently worked with an NGO to help give more girls the chance to study.

She said that Kabul was like a ‘ghost town’ since the Taliban had arrived and most shops were closed as traders worried about the worsening security situation and the possibility of looters.

‘People are very conflicted about the future and what kind of Taliban we are facing now. Some think they’ve changed, and others are not so sure. I personally believe they will be softer for a few months, and then after that they will be the same Taliban of old.

‘We’re also uncertain about how women will be treated. In some provinces they’ve told women not to come to work, but we don’t know if that’s temporary. Whether they will start punishing men for shaving their beard and women for not wearing the hijab, no-one really knows.

‘I have lost all hope and I don’t think it will be an easy path for Afghan women. My mother used to tell me stories about what the Taliban did and now I fear it will all come true like a bad dream.’

‘We will honour women’s rights (within Islamic law)’: Taliban spokesman holds first news conference in Kabul and promises they won’t persecute women or take revenge

U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Frank McKenzie, center left, the commander of U.S. Central Command, and U.S. Marine Brig. Gen. Farrell J. Sullivan, the commander of the Naval Amphibious Task Force, review evacuation plans at Kabul airport

U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Frank McKenzie, center left, the commander of U.S. Central Command, and U.S. Marine Brig. Gen. Farrell J. Sullivan, the commander of the Naval Amphibious Task Force, review evacuation plans at Kabul airport
Boris Johnson pledged to take 25,000 Afghan refugees in the House of Commons today

Boris Johnson pledged to take 25,000 Afghan refugees in the House of Commons today
Kier Starmer hit out - saying evacuation flights were leaving Kabul airport half-empty

Kier Starmer hit out – saying evacuation flights were leaving Kabul airport half-empty
Evacuation flights continued throughout the night Tuesday and into Wednesday, with Australian troops escorting citizens and visa holders on to aircraft in the earlier hours

Evacuation flights continued throughout the night Tuesday and into Wednesday, with Australian troops escorting citizens and visa holders on to aircraft in the earlier hours
Australian citizens are pictured inside a military transport plane as it takes off from Kabul airport in Afghanistan

Australian citizens are pictured inside a military transport plane as it takes off from Kabul airport in Afghanistan
British nationals and Afghan evacuees are seen disembarking an RAF Voyager A330 aircraft at Brize Norton

British nationals and Afghan evacuees are seen disembarking an RAF Voyager A330 aircraft at Brize Norton
British nationals and Afghan evacuees are seen walking on the tarmac at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire

British nationals and Afghan evacuees are seen walking on the tarmac at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire
People evacuated from Afghanistan by a German Bundeswehr airplane arrive at the airport in Tashkent, Uzbekistan

People evacuated from Afghanistan by a German Bundeswehr airplane arrive at the airport in Tashkent, Uzbekistan
German citizens and some Afghanis and their families offered sanctuary by Germany arrive in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, on board a rescue flight before onward travel to Europe

German citizens and some Afghanis and their families offered sanctuary by Germany arrive in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, on board a rescue flight before onward travel to Europe

 

Ducking bullets at the airport… bleeding and terrified… my horror attempt to flee Taliban

By LATIF HOTTAK for the Daily Mail

It was midnight, at the end of a dreadful day. I had dodged my way along back roads, then main roads, trying to avoid Taliban checkpoints in a desperate bid to reach Kabul airport to try and find any information about flights to the UK.

The two-hour journey had been a mistake. Not only did I have to run the gauntlet of triumphant, often aggressive, Taliban fighters as they randomly searched vehicles and fearful passengers – pedestrians, too – but when I arrived I had become caught up in the chaos at Kabul international airport.

Hundreds of my fellow countrymen, young and old, were seeking information on how to escape our homeland. It was brutally hot and everyone was nervous. We felt the eyes of men who had been our enemy staring into us with the cold eyes of a victor.

At each gate to the airport – there were five in all – I had asked for the British. I had spent six years working with them as their interpreter, but the unsmiling Turkish guards would let no one through. We were left in a dangerous no-man’s land of about 100 metres with Taliban on one side, walls topped with razor wire on the other.

Loyal service: Latif Hottak (pictured right), who has spent six years working with the British Army as their interpreter, and another translator in Helmand in 2008

Loyal service: Latif Hottak (pictured right), who has spent six years working with the British Army as their interpreter, and another translator in Helmand in 2008

I was desperate. I was a potential Taliban target because of my years of work for British soldiers. But also because, over many years, the UK Government had repeatedly and unjustly refused me relocation – a chance to escape and build a new life for my family.

One wall was slightly lower than the rest, maybe about two metres high. I decided to try and scale it so I would drop down into the comparative safety of the airport.

As I clambered up the wall, there was a burst of gunfire, followed by another. It was into the air but none of us knew that and panic set in as we scrambled first for safety, then threw ourselves back to the tarmac outside the airport.

It was something I had done many times in the dirt and maize fields of Helmand while on foot patrol with brave British soldiers when the Taliban had opened fire. Then, it had not been in the air.

This time, there were three more bursts, then silence and barked orders from the Taliban to leave. I felt my legs and blood was gushing from cuts. But in the panic I had not noticed the pain.

The journey home on foot in the twilight of the evening was slow – each step agonising. I kept my head low and tried not to limp, merging into groups of other Afghans.

When I eventually arrived home at the darkened basement that has been our home for three years, I sat on the rugs covering the floor which are also our beds. I was exhausted and depressed.

My wife Ruqia is a nurse and gently dabbed my wounds with a cold cloth while I told my four children what had happened. The story had no happy ending. There was to be no airport escape.

So when the phone rang on the corner table, I could hardly be bothered to answer. It was my brother Rafi, also an ex-translator, who calls most nights from the UK to check on us. With the Taliban having arrived in the city 24 hours earlier, he, like us, was extremely worried. There were reports of fighters conducting house-to-house searches looking for those who worked for foreign forces.

Rafi and I had been interpreters together. We had joined at the same time in 2006 and taken the same risks on the frontline. He was blown-up by an IED in Helmand, a blast that killed a British officer. Rafi had been saved by doctors at Camp Bastion.

When he recovered, we took on a new role together working with UK Special Forces. That was until the death threats became too much and he escaped with people traffickers to the UK. After a fight, he was granted asylum.

He called me regularly. Together with the Daily Mail, he had been battling to overturn my case so we could be a family again in the UK. In truth, I was jealous of his life of safety and freedom, a life that seemed unobtainable – especially with the Taliban on the streets.

I am approved at last – but will the call ever come for the flight? Will the airport still be open? writes Latif Hottak (pictured: British citizens and dual nationals residing in Afghanistan board a military plane for evacuation from Kabul airport)

I am approved at last – but will the call ever come for the flight? Will the airport still be open? writes Latif Hottak (pictured: British citizens and dual nationals residing in Afghanistan board a military plane for evacuation from Kabul airport)

But this call was different. Rafi was not his normal self. He was excited and the words I had longed to hear tumbled out quickly.

They were beautiful, magical and I couldn’t believe them. My case had been granted. I screamed, my wife screamed and my four children screamed.

Rafi waited and allowed us an unforgettable moment of joy, of relief. He then read out the email sent to him by the Ministry of Defence. A massive burden had been lifted.

My eldest son Zaki, who is 13, grabbed the phone and shouted at Rafi: ‘Uncle, I am coming to see you!’ ‘Yes you are,’ Rafi replied and we all laughed and talked and talked.

As Ruqia and I laid Zaki and our other children Sana, Sudies and Sama down on their mats nearby, none of us slept.

But this time it was the excitement, not the fear of the Taliban arrival, that kept us awake. I thought of my six years of loyal service to the British; how I had saved the life of a soldier after hearing Taliban forces prepare to open fire as he climbed into a compound. I had grabbed his legs and dragged him from his ladder.

I thought about how, for some reason, the British said I had been dismissed for helping an Afghan soldier pass his exam. It was not true. But it prevented me from having a chance of relocation. Rafi and Daily Mail journalist David Williams have never given up on me. They dug and dug until they found evidence that helped the truth come out. Earlier this month, the Mail put that evidence to the MoD.

I did not sleep. Yesterday, I felt different, not tired. My head is clear, and my load is lighter. But there is a terrible contradiction.

I feel elated but scared too, very scared. I am approved at last – but will the call ever come for the flight? Will the airport still be open? Will we be able to safely navigate our way through the Taliban lines?

More and more fighters are arriving. These are hardened men from the battles of Helmand. What happens if I am recognised? I experienced the chaos and the dangers of the airport and how the mood can change. It worries me greatly: the checkpoint, the searches, the paperwork, the children saying a word out of place.

Only when we are in the air and away from Afghanistan will I relax. Until then, we will wait and hope and pray for our deliverance – and that this is not all too late.

Hero’s welcome for Baradar the Butcher: Taliban co-founder arrives in Afghanistan after 20-year exile

The Taliban have posted a triumphalist video seemingly showing one of its cofounders arriving to a hero’s welcome in Kandahar and locals cheering on his motorcade.

The group says the footage shows Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar returning to cheering crowds in Afghanistan on Tuesday following 20 years of exile amid the Western effort to eliminate the Taliban threat.

On Sunday his forces had taken Kabul, and Baradar, head of the Taliban’s political office, is now tipped to become the country’s next leader, following the collapse of the previous US-backed regime.

The 53-year-old had been deputy leader under ex-chief Mullah Mohammed Omar, whose support for Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden led to the invasion of Afghanistan following the September 11 terror attacks.

Around a dozen people joined Baradar on the flight and were noisily welcomed on the runway

Around a dozen people joined Baradar on the flight and were noisily welcomed on the runway

Baradar arrived in Kandahar Province on Tuesday, landing in the insurgent group’s former capital just days after they took control of the country.

Taliban spokesman Dr M Naeem uploaded footage of his flight landing and of a motorcade of 4x4s bearing the white flag of the organisation.

He wrote: ‘This afternoon, a high-level delegation from the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan headed by Mullah Baradar Akhund left Qatar and arrived in our beloved country this afternoon and landed at Kandahar Airport.’

Baradar (pictured) set up an Islamic school in Kandahar with his former commander Mohammed Omar, and the two mullahs helped to found the Taliban movement

Baradar (pictured) set up an Islamic school in Kandahar with his former commander Mohammed Omar, and the two mullahs helped to found the Taliban movement

Commentators have pointed out similarities between Baradar’s return and that of Ayatollah Khomeini to Iran in 1979, following 14 years of exile in Paris as an outlawed cleric.

Baradar, who was born in Uruzgan province in 1968, was raised in Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban movement, and went on to fight with the mujahedeen against the Soviets in the 1980s.

Afterwards, as the country was gripped by a civil war between rival warlords and Baradar set up an Islamic school in Kandahar with his former commander Mohammed Omar, and the two mullahs helped to found the Taliban movement, an ideology which embraced hardline orthodoxy and strived for the creation of an Islamic Emirate.

The Taliban seized power in 1996 after conquering provincial capitals before marching on Kabul, just as they have in recent months, and Baradar went on to perform a number of different roles during the group’s five-year reign.

He was the deputy defence minister when the US invaded in 2001, and though he went into hiding, he remained active in the Taliban’s leadership in exile.

Baradar had been freed from jail in Pakistan three years ago at the request of the U.S. government. Just nine months ago, he posed for pictures with Donald Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to sign a peace deal in Doha which now lies in tatters.

In 2010, the CIA tracked him down to the Pakistani city of Karachi and in February of that year the Pakistani intelligence service (ISI) arrested him. But in 2018, he was released at the request of the Trump administration as part of their ongoing negotiations with the Taliban in Qatar, on the understanding that he could help broker peace.

In February 2020, Baradar signed the Doha Agreement in which the U.S. pledged to leave Afghanistan on the basis that the Taliban would enter into a power-sharing arrangement with President Ashraf Ghani’s government in Kabul.

He was pictured in September with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who ‘urged the Taliban to seize this opportunity to forge a political settlement and reach a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire,’ the US said in a statement.

Pompeo ‘welcomed Afghan leadership and ownership of the effort to end 40 years of war and ensure that Afghanistan is not a threat to the United States or its allies.’

The Doha deal was heralded as a momentous peace declaration but has been proved to be nothing but a ploy by the Taliban.

‘We will honour women’s rights (within Islamic law)’: Taliban spokesman holds first news conference in Kabul and promises they won’t persecute women or take revenge

The Taliban claimed that Afghan women will not be persecuted under their Islamic rule during their first press conference since their sweeping conquest of Kabul this week, as the man tipped to be Afghanistan’s next leader arrived in the country after a 20-year exile.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman, claimed ‘there is a huge difference between us and the Taliban of 20 years ago’, when female Afghans were beaten in the street or publicly executed, denied work, healthcare and an education, and barred from leaving home without a male chaperone.

During their press conference in the capital city, the Taliban insisted girls will receive an education and women will be allowed to study at university – both of which were forbidden under Taliban rule in Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001 before the US-led invasion.

The terror group also claimed they want women to be part of the new government after female Afghans staged a protest outside a local Taliban HQ in Khair Khana district, a suburb of north-west Kabul, while chanting ‘honour and lives are safe’ and ‘join voices with us’.

Pictured: Zabihullah Mujahid, chief spokesman for the Taliban, speaks during a press conference in Kabul on Tuesday, August 17, 2021. For years, Mujahid had been a shadowy figure issuing statements on behalf of the militants

Pictured: Zabihullah Mujahid, chief spokesman for the Taliban, speaks during a press conference in Kabul on Tuesday, August 17, 2021. For years, Mujahid had been a shadowy figure issuing statements on behalf of the militants

The Taliban’s war on female Afghans: Islamic group’s brutal oppression of women and girls during 1990s tyranny

A woman wearing a blue-coloured burqa walks next to the construction site of a building in Kabul on June 21, 2021

A woman wearing a blue-coloured burqa walks next to the construction site of a building in Kabul on June 21, 2021

Under the hardline version of Sharia – Islamic law – that the Taliban imposed the last time they controlled the capital, women and girls were mostly denied education or employment.

Burqas – full body and face coverings – became mandatory in public, women could not leave home without a male companion, and public floggings and executions, including stoning for adultery, were carried out in city squares and stadiums.

Under threat of execution, girls were banned from mainstream education after the age of eight – forcing those who wanted to learn to do so in secret schools.

From the age of eight, girls were not allowed to be in direct contact with males other than a close ‘blood relative’, husband, or in-law.

Punishments were often carried out publicly, either as formal spectacles held in sports stadiums or town squares or spontaneous street beatings. Many punishments were meted out by individual militias without the sanction of Taliban authorities.

In October 1996, for instance, a woman had the tip of her thumb cut off for wearing nail varnish – while in 1999, a mother-of-seven was executed in front of 30,000 spectators in Kabul’s Ghazi Sport stadium for murdering her husband. She had been jailed for three years and tortured prior to the execution, but had refused to plead her innocence in a bid to protect her daughter.

 Even after the Taliban’s ousting in 2001, women often remained marginalised, especially in rural areas.

The United Nations chief called for an immediate end to violence in Afghanistan and urging the international community to unite to ensure that the human rights of all people are respected.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed to the Security Council at an emergency meeting on Monday ‘and the international community as a whole to stand together, work together and act together.’

He said he is ‘particularly concerned by accounts of mounting human rights violations against the women and girls of Afghanistan who fear a return to the darkest days’ in the 1990s when the Taliban ruled and barred girls for getting an education and imposed draconian measures on women.

Mr Guterres said ‘the world is following events in Afghanistan with a heavy heart and deep disquiet about what lies ahead’ and with the country’s future and the hopes and dreams of a generation of young Afghans in the balance, the coming days ‘will be pivotal.’

At this ‘grave hour,’ the secretary-general urged all parties, especially the Taliban, ‘to exercise utmost restraint to protect lives and to ensure that humanitarian needs can be met.’

Mr Guterres said the UN continues to have staff and offices in areas now under Taliban control, and which so far have been respected. ‘Above all, we will stay and deliver in support of the Afghan people in their hour of need.’

‘We cannot and must not abandon the people of Afghanistan,’ he said.

However, women and girls remain the most at risk under the new regime, with gangs in conquered areas allegedly hunting children as young as 12 and unmarried or widowed women they regard as spoils of war – ‘qhanimat’ – being forced into marriage or sex slavery.

The Taliban has also said women will have to wear hijabs but not burkas. During the press conference on Tuesday, Mujahid did not detail what restrictions would be imposed on women, although he did say it would be a government with ‘strong Islamic values’.

Mujahid claimed: ‘We are committed to the rights of women under the system of Sharia. They are going to be working shoulder to shoulder with us. We would like to assure the international community that there will be no discrimination.’

The Taliban denied it was enforcing sex slavery, and claims that such actions are against Islam. During the 1990s, the regime established religious police for the suppression of ‘vice’, and courts handed out extreme punishments including stoning to death women accused of adultery.

Just minutes before the hour-long press conference, it was confirmed that Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban’s deputy leader and co-founder, had arrived back in Kandahar from Qatar, with what was described as a high-level delegation.

‘We are going to decide what kind of laws will be presented to the nation. This will be the responsibility of the government with the participation of all people,’ Mujahid claimed.

Much of the rest of Mujahid’s press conference was also aimed at quashing fears about reprisal attacks against those who supported the Western-backed government, saying the new government did not want internal or external enemies.

Earlier, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told Sky News ‘thousands’ of schools would continue to educate girls as the group announced a ‘general amnesty’ for those who previously worked in the Afghan government, saying ‘their properties will be saved and their honour and their lives are safe.’

A group of women staged a demonstration demanding the right to work and study in Kabul on Tuesday morning.

Chanting the slogan: ‘join voices with us’ the small group of women approached a local Taliban HQ in Khair Khana district, a suburb of north-west Kabul.

But rather than arresting or beating the protestors, the senior Taliban commander present tried to reassure them by telling them: ‘Don’t worry, your rights will be respected. You will be allowed to work and study.’

One observer who saw the women’s protest said: ‘The Taliban are on their best behaviour at the moment. They are keen to take control of the levers of government in Kabul with the least possible bloodshed and in the quickest time.

‘They know that to do that they need to win the hearts and minds of the people, or at least allay their fears.

‘We’ve all heard orders from their high command stating that women will be allowed to work and girls to go to school, but that’s very different from the way the Taliban have behaved in the past. The proof will be whether they continue to maintain that position over the next few weeks and months, or revert to their old ways.’

Meanwhile, MailOnline received a heartfelt video plea from a young Afghan student outlining her fears for the days ahead.

Kabul University student Rukhsar, 22, said; ‘I am disheartened by the recent situation and advance of the Taliban because I have been sitting at home and worrying about my future.

‘I have dreamed of doing a lot of things in my life but now everything has been stopped suddenly. ‘Everything has changed in a flash of light.’

She added: ‘I don’t know about my future now and the international community have turned their faces away from us. This is our right to go to university and to do work in the offices.’

Mujahid also confirmed the Taliban’s intention to form a government, and made assurances that its shape will be announced once it has been completed.

‘Afghanistan will have a strong Islamic government,’ he said. ‘What the name and makeup will be, let’s leave that to political leaders. I can assure you it will have strong Islamic values.’

When asked by a reporter whether the Taliban would renounce terrorist group Al-Qaeda, Mujahid answered evasively, saying the group would not permit foreign fighters to use Afghanistan ‘against anybody’.

‘I would like to assure the international community that nobody will be harmed,’ Mujahid said from the former government’s media information centre in Kabul, speaking into a row of microphones.

‘We do not want to have any problems with the international community,’ he added, before defending the Taliban’s right to ‘act according to our religious principles.’

‘Other countries have different approaches, rules and regulations… the Afghans have the right to have their own rules and regulations in accordance with our values.’

The spokesman suggested that the Taliban intended to put the last 20 years behind them, claiming that the group is ‘not going to revenge anybody, we do not have grudges against anybody’.

‘We want to make sure Afghanistan is not the battlefield of conflict anymore. We want to grant amnesty to those who have fought against us,’ he said.

He described the Taliban’s ’20 year struggle for freedom, emancipating the country form occupation,’ and said of the recent incursion: ‘This was our right, we have achieved our right, I would like to thank God for bringing us to this stage.’

There have also been concerns that the Taliban would restrict media and journalists within the country. Mujahid also attempted to allay those fears in Tuesdays conference.

‘I would like to assure the media that we are committed to the media within our cultural frameworks’, Mujahid said. ‘Private media can continue to be free and independent.

‘Islam is very important in our country… Therefore Islamic values should be taken into account when it comes to the media, to developing your programmes.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid answers press members questions as he holds a press conference in Kabul, Afghanistan

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid answers press members questions as he holds a press conference in Kabul, Afghanistan
The same group of women started protesting this morning, demanding the extremist group does not 'eliminate' women from society but were not approached by Taliban fighters until the afternoon

The same group of women started protesting this morning, demanding the extremist group does not ‘eliminate’ women from society but were not approached by Taliban fighters until the afternoon

‘Impartiality of the media is very important, they can critique our work so that we can improve. But the media should not work against us’, he added.

Mujahid put particular emphasis on people being safe under the new Taliban regime, and that thing would be different from over two decades ago.

‘In your homes, nobody is going to harm you, nobody is going to be interrogated or chased, those who have knocked on doors to inspect houses are abusers, they are going to be pursued and investigated,’ he said.

‘Thousands of soldiers who fought us for 20 years, after the end of occupation, they have been pardoned. Those who are at the airport waiting, when they come back to their homes, they will be safe… we want to give them confidence.’

The Taliban’s spokesman said that the group has pardoned everybody for the stability and peace of Afghanistan,’ and said any harm caused in the recent incursion was ‘one of the side effects of conflict’.

‘A huge occupying force was defeated, it was impossible for us to emancipate the country, without injuries, without harms, without hurts.

‘Animosities have come to an end, we want to live peacefully, we don’t want any internal enemies or external enemies.’

Mujahid said that the country was at a ‘historic stage’, with consultation over the creation of the new ‘inclusive’ government to be completed soon. He also said that while there had been some riots involving people who ‘wanted to abuse the situation,’ he assured Kabul’s residents they would be protected.

He also signalled the Taliban might invite countries to return to their embassies after frantic efforts were made in the last few days by many western countries to embassy evacuate staff from the city.

‘The security of embassies is crucially important to us. The areas where there are embassies will have complete security,’ he said.

Despite the obvious PR campaign, terrified families in Kabul today handed red and white roses to the Taliban fighters who have taken their city – as they desperately tried to build bridges with them.

Footage of the men and boys approaching the armed members showed them handing the symbolic coloured flowers.

In Afghani culture red roses symbolise friendship, while the white blooms mean forgiveness.

Ironically the flowers were nearly wiped out during the last Taliban regime when gardens were left neglected.

The handing of the roses was a last gamble of families in Kabul who are anxiously waiting to see how rule under the Islamists will look.

With little else to urge compassion from them, mothers and fathers are hoping the gesture will encourage mercy.

The peaceful act is in stark contrast to the actions of Taliban fighters marauding the capital city.

They have been targeting pro-West men and women and knocking on doors to take them away.

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