The Taliban claims it is ready to take over Kabul airport and has already taken some positions, but the Pentagon denies the claim. Taliban forces have closed Kabul airport to most Afghans hoping to flee, as the US and its allies wind down a chaotic airlift that will bring their troops’ two-decade presence in Afghanistan to a close.
Western leaders understood that leaving the country would mean leaving behind some of their citizens and many locals who had aided them over the years. They pledged to work with the Taliban to allow local allies to depart beyond President Joe Biden’s deadline on Tuesday.
The Taliban are preparing to seize the airport.
Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesperson, said that the group’s soldiers were holding several areas within the airport and were prepared to take control of it peacefully as American forces flew out. Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby, though, refuted the claim.
After Thursday’s bombing, the Taliban stationed additional soldiers outside the airport to prevent big groups from forming. On the highways leading to the airport, new checkpoints appeared, some staffed by uniformed Taliban fighters with Humvees and night-vision goggles seized from Afghan security personnel. The areas where crowds of people had collected in the preceding two weeks in the hope of leaving the nation mainly were deserted.
The Taliban has urged Afghans to stay, promising amnesty to even those who fought against them. The Taliban has also stated that commercial flights will begin following the US departure, but it is unclear whether airlines will provide service.
The United States and its allies have stated that they will continue to provide humanitarian relief through the United Nations and other partners. Still, any further participation – including development support – will likely be contingent on the Taliban delivering on their promises of more moderate governance.