Taliban enter Kabul and demand SURRENDER: War chiefs head to presidential palace for 'transfer of power' while Afghan troops surrender Bagram air base - after SAS were flown in to evacuate British ambassador who was due to be on plane TONIGHT

Taliban fighters have entered Kabul and are seeking a 'peaceful transfer of power' with gunfire heard near the presidential palace as the extremists seized huge swathes of the country in the wake of the US military departure.

The militants were seen in the districts of Kalakan, Qarabagh and Paghman hours after taking control of Jalalabad, the most recent major Afghan city to fall to the insurgents as they make huge gains across Afghanistan.

The US evacuated diplomats from its embassy by helicopter as a Taliban spokesman said they were looking for a 'peaceful surrender' of the capital after meeting little resistance, while the British ambassador moved to a safe place to prepare for an evacuation.

Taliban leader Mullah Baradar, who is based in Qatar, is heading to Afghanistan where he is expected to head the new interim government after the transfer which will see President Ghani relinquishing power. 

The terror group said: 'We don't want a single, innocent Afghan civilian to be injured or killed as we take charge of Kabul but we have not declared a ceasefire.' 

They added they do not intend to take Kabul 'by force' after entering the outskirts of the city, while Bagram air base was also surrendered by troops.

An Afghan official earlier confirmed Jalalabad fell under Taliban control without a fight early Sunday morning when the governor surrendered, saying it was 'the only way to save civilian lives.' 

Its fall has also given the Taliban control of a road leading to the Pakistan city of Peshawar, one of the main highways into landlocked Afghanistan.   

Besides Kabul, just seven other provincial capitals out of the country's 34 are yet to fall to the Taliban after the military, which had been trained by the US, failed to stave off their attacks. 

The Taliban are now closing in on the capital from all sides, controlling territories to the North, South, East and West and advancing to just seven miles south of the city. 

Hoda Ahmadi, a lawmaker from Logar province, told The Associated Press that the Taliban have reached the Char Asyab district on the outskirts of the capital, which was gripped by blackouts, communications outages and street fighting overnight Saturday as the country descends into chaos. 

A US defense official has warned it could be only a matter of days before the insurgent fighters take control of Kabul. Just last week, US intelligence estimates expected the city to be able to hold out for at least three months. 

As the Taliban advance accelerates, the US is scrambling to evacuate more than 10,000 American citizens from the capital, with officials said to be trying to strike a deal for Taliban fighters not to descend on Kabul until the US can pull everyone out.

However, a senior US official told the New York Times the Taliban have warned the US it must cease airstrikes or else its extremist fighters will move in. 

Joe Biden has vowed that any action that puts Americans at risk 'will be met with a swift and strong US military response.' 

A Taliban fighter sits inside an Afghan National Army (ANA) vehicle along the roadside in Laghman province on Sunday

A Taliban fighter sits inside an Afghan National Army (ANA) vehicle along the roadside in Laghman province on Sunday 

Taliban fighters drive the vehicle through the streets of Laghman province Sunday - the same day Jalalabad fell

Taliban fighters drive the vehicle through the streets of Laghman province Sunday - the same day Jalalabad fell 

A Taliban fighter rides a motorbike through a street in Laghman province. A US defense official has warned it could be only a matter of days before the insurgent fighters take control of Kabul

A Taliban fighter rides a motorbike through a street in Laghman province. A US defense official has warned it could be only a matter of days before the insurgent fighters take control of Kabul

Taliban fighters stand armed with guns in Laghman province after making major gains across Afghanistan in the wake of the US departure

Taliban fighters stand armed with guns in Laghman province after making major gains across Afghanistan in the wake of the US departure

The Taliban have now taken over Jalalabad, spelling the fall of the last major Afghan city other than Kabul to the extremist fighters as the US withdraws its troops from the country. Pictured Taliban forces patrol Herat Saturday

The Taliban have now taken over Jalalabad, spelling the fall of the last major Afghan city other than Kabul to the extremist fighters as the US withdraws its troops from the country. Pictured Taliban forces patrol Herat Saturday 

A US Chinook helicopter flies over the city of Kabul as diplomatic vehicles leave the compound after the Taliban advanced on the Afghan capital

A US Chinook helicopter flies over the city of Kabul as diplomatic vehicles leave the compound after the Taliban advanced on the Afghan capital

The militants were seen in the districts of Kalakan, Qarabagh and Paghman hours after taking control of Jalalabad, the most recent major Afghan city to fall to the insurgents

The militants were seen in the districts of Kalakan, Qarabagh and Paghman hours after taking control of Jalalabad, the most recent major Afghan city to fall to the insurgents

Smoke rises next to the US Embassy in Kabul after Taliban fighters entered the outskirts of the Afghan capital

Smoke rises next to the US Embassy in Kabul after Taliban fighters entered the outskirts of the Afghan capital


Taliban forces patrol a street in Herat, Afghanistan on Friday. Kabul, the Afghanistan capital, is now the only remaining major city still under government control

Taliban forces patrol a street in Herat, Afghanistan on Friday. Kabul, the Afghanistan capital, is now the only remaining major city still under government control

Residents and fighters swarm an Afghan National Army vehicle on a roadside in Laghman province as the insurgents take control of major cities

Residents and fighters swarm an Afghan National Army vehicle on a roadside in Laghman province as the insurgents take control of major cities

Taliban fighters stand guard on a roadside in Herat. Concerns are mounting over how long Kabul can stave off the Taliban insurgents as they have captured the northern stronghold of Mazar-i-Sharif, the second-largest city Kandahar and third-largest city Herat all within the last 48 hours

Taliban fighters stand guard on a roadside in Herat. Concerns are mounting over how long Kabul can stave off the Taliban insurgents as they have captured the northern stronghold of Mazar-i-Sharif, the second-largest city Kandahar and third-largest city Herat all within the last 48 hours

Taliban militants gather a day after taking control of Kandahar, Afghanistan, on Saturday. The second-largest city in Afghanistan was taken Friday

Taliban militants gather a day after taking control of Kandahar, Afghanistan, on Saturday. The second-largest city in Afghanistan was taken Friday

A man sells Taliban flags in Herat province, west of Kabul, Saturday - one day after the city was taken by the extremist group

A man sells Taliban flags in Herat province, west of Kabul, Saturday - one day after the city was taken by the extremist group 


This comes as:

  • The first batch of diplomats from the US Embassy in Kabul started being evacuated out Sunday morning
  • Joe Biden increased the number of troops being sent to evacuate Americans to 5,000 
  • The president defended the withdrawal of US troops and blamed Donald Trump for a deal that left the warlords 'in the strongest position militarily since 2001' 
  • The Biden administration will hold a virtual briefing with House members Sunday following a request by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
  • Taliban fighters invaded the palatial home of Afghan warlord and US ally General Rashid Dostum Saturday 
  • The Taliban took control of the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif Saturday - one day after taking the cities of Kandahar and Herat 

A total of 5,000 US troops are being deployed to help safely evacuate State Department staff from the US Embassy in Kabul with some of the first diplomats starting to fly out early Sunday. 

Two US officials told Reuters a 'small batch' of people had already left while most staff were ready to go as soon as they were able.   

The evacuation of embassy staff was originally slated to take 72 hours but officials have ramped up efforts to get all Embassy staff out within the next 36 hours as the militant assault picks up pace, sources told CBS News

Only a small number of key personnel including top decision-makers, the Bureau of Diplomatic Security Service and top decision-makers and security engineers able to destroy sensitive information will remain.  

All US diplomats should be out of the country entirely by the end of August, the sources said. 

The US military is preparing to lower the American flag over the Embassy - if the State Department gives the order - signaling its closure. 

Biden announced Saturday he was increasing the number of US troops being deployed to protect the withdrawal from the US embassy to 5,000. 

Around 1,000 service members are already on the ground and 3,000 more were already being sent next week, before he announced the deployment of an extra 1,000 troops from the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg as the situation escalated Saturday. 


Footage posted on social media is said to show Taliban fighters taking over Jalalabad. The city fell under Taliban control without a fight early Sunday morning

Footage posted on social media is said to show Taliban fighters taking over Jalalabad. The city fell under Taliban control without a fight early Sunday morning

Children sleep on the ground in a makeshift camp at Shahr-e-Naw Park in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Saturday after fleeing their homes in parts of Afghanistan now occupied by the Taliban

Children sleep on the ground in a makeshift camp at Shahr-e-Naw Park in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Saturday after fleeing their homes in parts of Afghanistan now occupied by the Taliban

Refugees staying at the park fled to Kabul as the only major city in the country no longer under Taliban rule by Sunday

Refugees staying at the park fled to Kabul as the only major city in the country no longer under Taliban rule by Sunday

Afghan refugees are fleeing the country and heading to the US and Canada as they face threats from the Taliban

Afghan refugees are fleeing the country and heading to the US and Canada as they face threats from the Taliban 


The Taliban is now closing in on the capital of Kabul from all sides, now controlling territories in the north, south, east and west

The Taliban is now closing in on the capital of Kabul from all sides, now controlling territories in the north, south, east and west

Other western governments are also rapidly withdrawing their embassy staff, citizens and Afghans who worked for them from the country with the British ambassador set to leave by Sunday evening.

Meanwhile, thousands of locals have fled to Kabul to try to escape the Taliban as they have taken control of their home provinces. 

This has pushed the city's four million population higher and forced refugees to set up home in makeshift camps around the city.  

The Afghan army has vowed to defend the capital from the Taliban who are demanding that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani step down - something he is refusing to do. 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held talks with Ghani Saturday to discuss the 'urgency of ongoing diplomatic and political efforts to reduce the violence,' the State Department said in a statement. 

'The Secretary emphasized the United States' commitment to a strong diplomatic and security relationship with the Government of Afghanistan and our continuing support for the people of Afghanistan.' 

A virtual briefing will be held Sunday morning between Biden Administration officials and House members following a request by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. 

It comes as the Biden administration has come under fire over the advancement of the Taliban in Afghanistan which many are blaming on the American troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Military helicopters stand on the tarmac of the military airport in Kabul Saturday from which the US is evacuating citizens

Military helicopters stand on the tarmac of the military airport in Kabul Saturday from which the US is evacuating citizens 

Passengers walk to the departures terminal of Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul Saturday as people flee the country

Passengers walk to the departures terminal of Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul Saturday as people flee the country 

People try to leave the country as the Taliban takes control of more areas of Afghanistan and closes in on the capital Kabul

People try to leave the country as the Taliban takes control of more areas of Afghanistan and closes in on the capital Kabul 

Passengers trying to fly out of Kabul International Airport amid the Taliban offensive wait in line in Kabul Friday

 Passengers trying to fly out of Kabul International Airport amid the Taliban offensive wait in line in Kabul Friday 

Biden defended the withdrawal Saturday and blamed predecessor Donald Trump for a deal that left the warlords 'in the strongest position militarily since 2001'.  

'One more year, or five more years, of US military presence would not have made a difference if the Afghan military cannot or will not hold its own country. And an endless American presence in the middle of another country's civil conflict was not acceptable to me,' he said in a statement.  

Biden also hit out at predecessor Trump for the deal with the Taliban that led to the recent withdrawal.

He said: 'When I came to office, I inherited a deal cut by my predecessor—which he invited the Taliban to discuss at Camp David on the eve of 9/11 of 2019—that left the Taliban in the strongest position militarily since 2001.

'Shortly before he left office, he also drew US forces down to a bare minimum of 2,500.

'When I became President, I faced a choice—follow through on the deal, with a brief extension to get our forces and our allies' forces out safely, or ramp up our presence and send more American troops to fight once again in another country's civil conflict. 

'I was the fourth President to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan—two Republicans, two Democrats. I would not, and will not, pass this war onto a fifth.'  

Former CIA director and former commander of US and International Forces in Afghanistan David Petraeus also blasted the situation in Afghanistan 'disastrous', 'catastrophic' and an 'an enormous national security set back' for the world

Former CIA director and former commander of US and International Forces in Afghanistan David Petraeus also blasted the situation in Afghanistan 'disastrous', 'catastrophic' and an 'an enormous national security set back' for the world

Senator Tom Cotton tweeted that the 'fiasco' was 'predictable' and had 'humiliated' the US

Senator Tom Cotton tweeted that the 'fiasco' was 'predictable' and had 'humiliated' the US

Senator Mitt Romney posted that he could not understand why the US had pulled out of the country

Senator Mitt Romney posted that he could not understand why the US had pulled out of the country

Former Secretary of State for Trump Mike Pompeo blasted the Biden administration, claiming the Trump administration had a plan for bringing troops out

Former Secretary of State for Trump Mike Pompeo blasted the Biden administration, claiming the Trump administration had a plan for bringing troops out

The president has been slammed by several Republicans, with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy hitting out at the 'complete mismanagement' of the Afghanistan withdrawal. 

McCarthy said: 'The White House has no discernible plan other than pleading with the Taliban. The bungled withdrawal, reminiscent of his failed withdrawal from Iraq, is an embarrassment to our nation.'

'President Biden must continue to provide the close air support necessary for the Afghan government to protect themselves from the Taliban and make sure al Qaeda and ISIS do not gain a foothold due to the Biden administration's disastrous policies.'  

Former CIA director and former commander of US and International Forces in Afghanistan David Petraeus also blasted the situation in Afghanistan 'disastrous', 'catastrophic' and an 'an enormous national security set back' for the world. 

Petraeus said on The Rita Cosby Show on WABC Radio the US withdrawal had caused a domino effect in the country. 

'This is an enormous national security set back and it is on the verge of getting much worse unless we decide to take really significant action,' Petraeus said. 

'We are now in a situation where the Taliban are trying to encircle Kabul – a city of 5 of 6 million before hundreds of thousands of refugees starting flooding into it.'   

Senator Tom Cotton tweeted that the 'fiasco' was 'predictable' and had 'humiliated' the US. 

'The fiasco in Afghanistan wasn't just predictable, it was predicted. Joe Biden's ill-planned retreat has now humiliated America and put at risk thousands of Americans left in Kabul,' he said.

'At a minimum, President Biden must unleash American air power to destroy every Taliban fighter in the vicinity of Kabul until we can save our fellow Americans. Anything less will further confirm Joe Biden's impotence to the world.'

Senator Mitt Romney posted that he could not understand why the US had pulled out of the country 'without an effective strategy to defend our partners.' 


The Taliban have ransacked the palatial home of top Afghan warlord and US ally General Dostum. They are pictured with a golden tea set

The Taliban have ransacked the palatial home of top Afghan warlord and US ally General Dostum. They are pictured with a golden tea set

A fighter poses in front of a gold cabinet at the home of Army Marshal Rashid Dostum - an infamous warlord and a former Afghan vice president who has survived the past 40 years of conflict by cutting deals and switching sides

A fighter poses in front of a gold cabinet at the home of Army Marshal Rashid Dostum - an infamous warlord and a former Afghan vice president who has survived the past 40 years of conflict by cutting deals and switching sides

Fighters wielding guns were filmed walking around the luxurious oval-shaped room, filled with chandeliers and gold furniture, and posing in chairs

Fighters wielding guns were filmed walking around the luxurious oval-shaped room, filled with chandeliers and gold furniture, and posing in chairs

A Taliban fighter poses with a US-made Afghan air force Blackhawk helicopter at captured Kandahar airfield

A Taliban fighter poses with a US-made Afghan air force Blackhawk helicopter at captured Kandahar airfield 

Taliban fighters have seized helicopters as they continue their advance through Afghanistan, which is now approaching the outskirts of Kabul

Taliban fighters have seized helicopters as they continue their advance through Afghanistan, which is now approaching the outskirts of Kabul

'I understand but disagree with those who felt we should leave Afghanistan; I cannot understand why it has been done with such tragic human cost; without an effective strategy to defend our partners; and with inestimable shock to our nation's credibility, reliability, and honor,' he tweeted Saturday.

Former Secretary of State for Trump Mike Pompeo blasted the Biden administration, claiming the Trump administration had a plan for bringing troops out.

'Our administration had a model of deterrence in place as we prepared to bring the soldiers, sailors, marines, everybody who is on the ground there, home,' he tweeted.

'It looks like the Biden Administration has not been able to execute this.' 

Taliban fighters invaded the palatial home of top Afghan warlord and US ally General Rashid Dostum Saturday after taking control of the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif. 

Dostum was a key US ally during the 20 year campaign against the Taliban and famously fought with the Special Forces 'horse soldiers' shortly after 9/11.

Before 9/11 he was an infamous warlord who was known for crushing prisoners alive beneath the wheels of a tank and in recent years he was a senior figure in the Afghan National Army. He is believed to have escaped.    

On Saturday, fighters wielding guns were filmed walking Dostum's home in Mazar-i-Sharif around the luxurious oval-shaped room, filled with chandeliers and gold furniture. 

Smoke rises above Kandahar, Afghanistan, Thursday as Taliban forces took control of the country's third largest city

Smoke rises above Kandahar, Afghanistan, Thursday as Taliban forces took control of the country's third largest city 

The Taliban standing on a roadside in Kandahar after taking over more parts of Afghanistan. The scale and speed of the Taliban advance has shocked Afghans and the US-led alliance that poured billions into the country

The Taliban standing on a roadside in Kandahar after taking over more parts of Afghanistan. The scale and speed of the Taliban advance has shocked Afghans and the US-led alliance that poured billions into the country

Biden wrote a statement from Camp David on Saturday afternoon, insisting that he could not force the Afghan army to fight

Biden wrote a statement from Camp David on Saturday afternoon, insisting that he could not force the Afghan army to fight


The fighters videoed themselves lounging on Dostum's gold furniture, posing in chairs and inspecting his golden tea set. 

Meanwhile, videos from Kandahar showed Taliban fighters seizing grounded US-made Blackhawk helicopters and taking to the air in Russian aircraft after turning their crew.   

Mazar-e-Sharif, the country's fourth largest city, fell Saturday despite Afghan forces and two powerful former warlords vowing to defend it.

The move handed the insurgents control over all of northern Afghanistan. 

'The army is not fighting. It is only Atta (Muhammad) Noor and (Marshal Abdul Rashid) Dostum's militias defending the city,' Mohammad Ibrahim Khairandesh, a former provincial council member who now lives in the city, told The New York Times

'The situation is critical, and it's getting worse.'      

'We are probably experiencing the most massive, brutal and opportunistic military campaign of violence and terror, by the Taliban, in the history of our country,' Afghan Foreign Minister Mohammed Haneef Atmar said at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute earlier this week.

The situation appears to be dire as insurgent forces tightened their grip around Kabul after warlords captured two more provinces on Saturday and moved within seven miles of the city.  

Herds of civilians who escaped the violence flooded the streets of Kabul and set up camps while diplomats work with other countries to see who's willing to take in Afghan refugees.  

The State Department is in talks with several other countries to house US-affiliated Afghan refugees, and Canada has already welcomed 20,000 Afghan refugees threatened by the Taliban, the IRCC - Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada - said in a Twitter statement. 

So far, about 1,200 Afghans have been evacuated to the United States and that number is set to rise to 3,500 in the coming weeks under 'Operation Allies Refuge,' with some going to a U.S. military base in Virginia to finalize their paperwork and others directly to US hosts, Reuters reported.

A deal to house about 8,000 Afghans in Qatar, which hosts a large US military base, has been close for weeks, a US official told Reuters, although no official deal has been announced. 

Afghan President Ghani addressed the nation in a minute-long video statement Saturday morning (US time) that was translated into English. 

'Afghanistan is in serious danger of instability,' Ghani said.

'Though I know that you are worried about your current situation and your future, I assure you that as your president, my focus is prevent the expansion of instability, violence and displacement of my people,' Ghani said.

'As part of a historical mission, I will do my best to stop this imposed conflict on the Afghan people to result in further killing of innocent people, loss of your achievements of the last 20 years, destruction of public property and prolonged instability.' 

He said he's engaging with Afghan and international leaders, and consultations are 'urgently ongoing and the results will soon be shared.' 

This was his first public comment since the Taliban demanded he resign in exchange for a reduction in violence. 

Between Friday and Saturday, the Taliban made major advances in what's already been an efficient takeover of the country. 

They captured Herat and Kandahar, which are the country's second- and third-largest cities, as well as the Logar province, just south of Kabul. 

The Taliban continued its swift movement towards Kabul by capturing Mazar-i-Sharif. 

Refugees flooded the Kabul in recent days as the Taliban continues to circle the city

Refugees flooded the Kabul in recent days as the Taliban continues to circle the city 

Diplomats are working with other countries to see who's willing to take in Afghan refugees who had to flee their homes

Diplomats are working with other countries to see who's willing to take in Afghan refugees who had to flee their homes 


Encampments of displaced civilians, who fled their homes because the Taliban took over, are set up in Kabul

Encampments of displaced civilians, who fled their homes because the Taliban took over, are set up in Kabul

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has called for Biden to launch US airstrikes against the Taliban after speaking to to US Ambassador to Afghanistan Adela Raz on Friday.  

The Kentucky Republican said in a statement that 'this debacle was not only foreseeable, it was foreseen.' 

'With that said, it is not too late to prevent the Taliban from overrunning Kabul,' McConnell said. 

'The Administration should move quickly to hammer Taliban advances with air strikes, provide critical support to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) defending the capital and prevent the seemingly imminent fall of the city.

 'If they fail to do so, the security threat to the United States will assuredly grow and the humanitarian cost to innocent Afghans will be catastrophic.' 

But it might be too late. Axios is reporting that the Biden administration is preparing for the fall of Kabul, despite the president's statements in recent days showing confidence in the Afghan military to ward of insurgents.  


A Taliban fighter stands guard over surrendered Afghan security member forces in the city of Ghazni, southwest of Kabul, Afghanistan on August 13

A Taliban fighter stands guard over surrendered Afghan security member forces in the city of Ghazni, southwest of Kabul, Afghanistan on August 13 

Afghan policemen inspect a car at a checkpoint along the road in Kabul on August 14

Afghan policemen inspect a car at a checkpoint along the road in Kabul on August 14

Taliban forces began reclaiming land they lost during the United State's 20-year occupation months before Biden announced his plans to withdraw troops by September 11. 

The preceding Trump administration negotiated the terms of a U.S. withdrawal in talks with the Taliban last year. 

Between May and June, the Taliban recaptured 50 of Afghanistan's 421 districts, Deborah Lyons, the UN's special envoy on Afghanistan, told Newsweek.

But the troop drawn down sped up the take over, and now the Taliban has a vice grip around the capital. 

'Clearly from their actions, it appears as if they are trying to get Kabul isolated,' Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said, referring to the Taliban's speedy and efficient takedown of major provincial capitals this past week. 

Kirby declined to discuss the Pentagon's assessment of whether the Taliban will converge on Kabul.  

Currently, there are 650 American troops still in the country to help protect the nation's diplomatic presence, according to the Associated Press, but there's no plan for how long the 5,000 Marines and Army infantrymen will remain in the country and there appears to be no appetite from either party to engage the Taliban. 

'This is a temporary mission with a narrow focus,' Kirby said. 

Stephen Biddle, a professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University, told The Associated Press that sending the troops is a morale killer for the Afghan military. 

'The message that sent to Afghans is: 'The city of Kabul is going to fall so fast that we can't organize an orderly withdrawal from the embassy,'' Biddle told the news outlet. 

This suggests to Afghans that the Americans see little future for the government and that 'this place could be toast within hours.'


Taliban fighters stand guard inside the city of Ghazni, southwest of Kabul, Afghanistan on August 13

Taliban fighters stand guard inside the city of Ghazni, southwest of Kabul, Afghanistan on August 13

The Taliban has rapidly seized provinces in Afghanistan since the US left. They inciting violence and fear in the citizens of Kabul as they move closer to seizing the city

The Taliban has rapidly seized provinces in Afghanistan since the US left. They inciting violence and fear in the citizens of Kabul as they move closer to seizing the city 


Meanwhile, Biden was on his way to Camp David in Maryland on Friday but didn't speak to reporters. 

He's been taking criticism at home and abroad for pulling the troops out of the country.  

Ata Mohammed Noor, an Afghan warlord and key US ally during the occupation, said the withdrawal was 'irresponsible' and the sudden exit weakened the Afghanistan military, which Noor said is not in a position to ward off insurgents, Newsweek reported.    

He has since warned about a possible civil war.  

Within the US, several Republican leaders, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, have ripped Biden for this decision. 

Friday night, McCarthy tweeted, 'Tonight we held a call with Afghanistan's Ambassador to the US to discuss the deteriorating situation. I remain deeply concerned with the Biden Admin's mismanagement of their bungled withdrawal. Much like his failed withdrawal from Iraq, it is an embarrassment to our nation.' 

Biden continued to defend his decision to pull the troops out of Afghanistan.  

On Tuesday, the commander-in-chief said the Afghan military is more powerful than the Taliban.

'The Taliban is not the North Vietnamese Army. They're not remotely comparable in terms of capability,' Biden said this week from the White House. 'There's going to be no circumstances where you're going to see people being lifted off the roof of an embassy in the United States from Afghanistan.'

The president alluded to the $1trillion and 20 years worth of investments to train and arm the Afghan forces. 

'And Afghan leaders have to come together. We lost to death and injury, thousands of American personnel. They've got to fight for themselves, fight for their nation,' Biden said. 

The president - pictured here boarding Marine One with First Lady Jill Biden on August 13 - has been heavily criticized by Afghanistan allies and Republican leaders for his handling of the troop withdrawal
Mitch McConnell called for airstrikes against Afghan Taliban as warlords moved to within seven miles of Kabul

President Joe Biden (left) has been heavily criticized by Afghanistan allies and Republican leaders like Sen. Mitch McConnell (right)  for his handling of the troop withdrawal. McConnell has called on the Biden Administration to call an airstrike

An Afghan policeman stands guard at a checkpoint along the road in Kabul on August 14 as Taliban forces close in on the capital

An Afghan policeman stands guard at a checkpoint along the road in Kabul on August 14 as Taliban forces close in on the capital 

Passengers trying to fly out of Kabul International Airport amid the Taliban offensive wait in the terminal in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 13

Passengers trying to fly out of Kabul International Airport amid the Taliban offensive wait in the terminal in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 13

The US is not the only country pulling out of Afghanistan. 

European countries - including Britain, Germany, Denmark and Spain - all announced the withdrawal of personnel from their respective embassies on Friday.

For Kabul residents and the tens of thousands who have sought refuge there in recent weeks, the overwhelming mood was one of confusion and fear of what lies ahead.

'We don't know what is going on,' one resident - Khairddin Logari - told AFP.

The Taliban has reportedly been ruthless when during its takeover.  

Taliban fighters are going door-to-door and forcibly marrying girls as young as 12 and forcing them into sex slavery as they seize vast swathes of the Afghanistan government forces.

Jihadist commanders have ordered imams in areas they have captured to bring them lists of unmarried women aged from 12 to 45 for their soldiers to marry because they view them as 'qhanimat' or 'spoils of war' - to be divided up among the victors. 

They're also killing Afghan government troops who surrender, the US claimed. 

Video taken in Faryab province last month appeared to show Taliban fighters massacring 22 Afghan commandos after they had surrendered, including the son of a well-known general. 

Hundreds of government troops have surrendered to the Taliban since fighting escalated in May with the withdrawal of US troops - some without firing a shot, others after being cut off and surrounded with little or no chance of reinforcement or resupply from the government in Kabul.


A Taliban fighter looks on as he stands at the city of Ghazni, Afghanistan August 14

A Taliban fighter looks on as he stands at the city of Ghazni, Afghanistan August 14

Taliban fighters pose as they stand guard along the roadside in Herat on August 14

Taliban fighters pose as they stand guard along the roadside in Herat on August 14

People walk near a mural of President Ashraf Ghani at Hamid Karzai International Airport, in Kabul. The Taliban has called on Ghani to resign

People walk near a mural of President Ashraf Ghani at Hamid Karzai International Airport, in Kabul. The Taliban has called on Ghani to resign 

The scale and speed of the Taliban advance has shocked Afghans and the US-led alliance that poured billions into the country after toppling the Taliban in the wake of the September 11 attacks nearly 20 years ago.

Days before a final US withdrawal ordered by President Joe Biden, individual soldiers, units and even whole divisions have surrendered - handing the insurgents even more vehicles and military hardware to fuel their lightning advance.

Despite the frantic evacuation efforts, the Biden administration continues to insist that a complete Taliban takeover is not inevitable, as McConnell believes. 

'Kabul is not right now in an imminent threat environment,' Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Friday, while acknowledging that Taliban fighters were 'trying to isolate' the city. 

Officials took pains to avoid describing the operation as an evacuation as they announced that the State Department would reduce its civilian footprint of 4,000 people to a 'core diplomatic presence.' 

But that was before Saturday's news that the Taliban have moved to within seven miles of Kabul, which has triggered fresh questions about whether Biden had been right to announce a complete withdrawal. 

Officials insist they always had contingency plans to help American staff leave safely, but critics said the result has been chaos.

But even allies have expressed concern. British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said the Trump administration had forged a 'rotten deal' with the Taliban that risked allowing terrorists to return.

'I've been pretty blunt about it publicly and that's quite a rare thing when it comes to United States decisions, but strategically it causes a lot of problems and as an international community, it's very difficult for what we're seeing today,' he told Sky News.

The city of Kabul police are patrolling the streets and defending civilians who have flocked to the city

The city of Kabul police are patrolling the streets and defending civilians who have flocked to the city

Kabul police - pictured here - secure areas in the central part of the city on August 13 as Taliban forces surround the city

For Kabul residents and the tens of thousands who have sought refuge there in recent weeks, the overwhelming mood was one of confusion and fear of what lies ahead

Afghan police are guarding a checkpoint along a road in Kabul on August 14

Afghan police are guarding a checkpoint along a road in Kabul on August 14


The Taliban offensive has accelerated at the end of the week with the capture of Herat in the north and Kandahar - the group's spiritual heartland - in the south.

Kandahar resident Abdul Nafi told AFP the city was calm after government forces abandoned it for the sanctuary of military facilities outside, where they were negotiating terms of surrender.

'I came out this morning, I saw Taliban white flags in most squares of the city,' he said. 'I thought it might be the first day of Eid.'

Eid is one of two celebrations in the Islamic faith. 

Pro-Taliban social media accounts have boasted of the vast spoils of war captured by the insurgents - posting photos of armored vehicles, heavy weapons, and even a drone seized by their fighters at abandoned military bases.

Taliban fighters sit on the back of a vehicle in the city of Herat, west of Kabul, Afghanistan on August 14

Taliban fighters sit on the back of a vehicle in the city of Herat, west of Kabul, Afghanistan on August 14


Flag of Taliban militants is raised at a square in Herat, Afghanistan, after seizing control of the city on August 13.

Flag of Taliban militants is raised at a square in Herat, Afghanistan, after seizing control of the city on August 13. 

The US Embassy in Kabul has been ordered to destroy sensitive materials as Biden sends in 3,000 troops to help evacuate

The US Embassy in Kabul has been ordered to destroy sensitive materials as Biden sends in 3,000 troops to help evacuate 

Members of Joint Forces Headquarters (JFHQ) are pictured here in the Ministry of Defense's handout deploying to Afghanistan to assist in the draw down of troops from the area

Members of Joint Forces Headquarters (JFHQ) are pictured here in the Ministry of Defense's handout deploying to Afghanistan to assist in the draw down of troops from the area 

Taliban enter Kabul and demand SURRENDER: War chiefs head to presidential palace for 'transfer of power' while Afghan troops surrender Bagram air base - after SAS were flown in to evacuate British ambassador who was due to be on plane TONIGHT Taliban enter Kabul and demand SURRENDER: War chiefs head to presidential palace for 'transfer of power' while Afghan troops surrender Bagram air base - after SAS were flown in to evacuate British ambassador who was due to be on plane TONIGHT Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 03:50 Rating: 5

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