The Taliban’s new interim government has agreed to allow the remaining foreign nationals to leave Afghanistan, less than a month after the militant group took over the war-ravaged country, a US official says.
The Taliban captured the capital Kabul and ousted the government of now-runaway president Ashraf Ghani on August 15, after firming up their grip on almost the entire country through rapid advances that faced no or little resistance from government troops.
The militants intensified their offensive and rapidly overran major Afghan cities after US-led NATO forces began what has been criticized as a hasty and ill-planned withdrawal. Their capture of Kabul brought a chaotic end to two decades of foreign military intervention in the impoverished country.
On Thursday, two days after the Taliban announced a caretaker government composed of mainly ethnic Pashtun men, an unnamed US official told Reuters that 200 Americans and other foreigners who are still in Afghanistan were set to depart by charter flights from Kabul later in the day.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added that the evacuation became possible after the new Taliban interim government agreed to the departures.
The Taliban had promised safe passage out of Afghanistan for any foreigners or Afghans left behind by the huge airlift which ended when American troops pulled out last month.
The fall of Kabul was triggered by the chaotic US-led evacuation of 124,000 foreigners and at-risk Afghans. The last US military plane departed Hamid Karzai International Airport close to midnight local time (1930 GMT) on August 30.
Prior to the announcement of forming the caretaker government on Tuesday, at least three rallies were held across Kabul, with Afghan protesters — most of them women — taking to the streets to show their defiance against the Taliban that swept to power last month.
On Tuesday, the protest rallies were dispersed when Taliban gunmen fired warning shots.
A men-only cabinet has angered Afghan women. In Kabul, a group of women protesters on Thursday carried signs reading: “A Cabinet without women is a failure.”
The US-led NATO launched the occupation of Afghanistan in 2001 to allegedly fight terrorism thousands of miles away from America’s own borders. The offensive ousted the Taliban, who had ruled the country since 1996, but it worsened the security situation in the country.
The Taliban intensified their offensives and rapidly overran major cities over the past month as the United States started what was seen as a hasty withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan.