The Taliban entered Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan, on Sunday to begin a “peaceful surrender” of the city, according to multiple reports.
Afghan officials told the Associated Press the Taliban leaders were holding talks at the presidential palace as the group pushes for an “unconditional surrender”.
“Until a peace agreement is agreed, the security of the city and its residents is the responsibility of the government and they should guarantee it,” a Taliban spokesman said in a statement.
Around eight or nine representatives of the Taliban’s group were inside the presidential palace, according to reports. Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani is expected to resign within hours, giving complete control of the country to the Taliban.
Some of Ghani’s advisors along with other high-ranking Afghan officials were at Hamid Karzai international airport in Kabul and awaiting a flight out of the city.
Afghan Minister of National Defense Gen. Bismillah Mohammadi urged the citizens to remain calm in a broadcast on Sunday, reassuring them of their safety.
“On behalf of the Afghan Security and Defense Forces, I assure all of you that the security of Kabul is ensured,” Mohammadi said. “Your security and Defense forces are committed to defending Kabul. “International forces are ready to cooperate with the Afghan security and defense forces.”
The Tablian’s takeover of Kabul comes less than 24 hours after President Joe Biden ordered 5,000 total troops to the region, up from his original number of 3,000 just a day earlier.
Biden also defended his decision to pull U.S. troops out of the region.
“One more year, or five more years, of U.S. military presence, would not have made a difference if the Afghan military cannot or will not hold its own country,” Biden wrote in a statement Saturday. “And an endless American presence in the middle of another country’s civil conflict was not acceptable to me.”
The United States is pulling out all personnel from the embassy in Kabul within the next 72 hours, marking a rapid speed-up of the process that was only just announced on Thursday.
“We have a small batch of people leaving now as we speak, a majority of the staff are ready to leave,” a U.S. official told Reuters on Sunday. “The embassy continues to function.”
The Taliban’s invasion of Kabul has caused the civilians to panic. Some ATMs have stopped distributing money and lines of hundreds of people are waiting at banks to withdraw their life savings and exit the city.
This is a breaking news story and will be updated with more information.