Kabul won't be attacked, assures Afghan minister as Taliban inches closer
Afghanistan's acting interior minister Abdul Sattar Mirzakwal said on Sunday that Kabul won't be attacked and that the transition would happen peacefully, Afghan TV network Tolo News reported.
Mirzakwal's televised statement to Tolo News follows claims by Taliban leadership that they won't take the Afghan capital "by force" and that negotiations were on the government for a “peaceful surrender” of Kabul.
According to multiple news agencies, Taliban asked its fighters to stand at the gates of Kabul and not try to enter the city. It also assured that the security of Kabul must be maintained till the completion of the transition process.
Taliban negotiators headed to the presidential palace on Sunday to discuss the transfer, said an Afghan official who spoke on condition of anonymity even though it remained unclear when that transfer would take place, according to Associated Press.
“We do not intend to take revenge on anyone. All those who have served in military and civilian sectors in the Kabul administration are forgiven and safe. All should stay in their own place and home and not try to leave the country,” Taliban said in a statement, accessed by various news agencies, and urged the Afghan civilians to not leave the country.
Despite the pledges, many rushed to leave the country through the Kabul airport, the last route out of the country as the Taliban laid siege on every border crossing.
As Taliban fighters inched closer towards Kabul, top Afghan officials, including Lower House speaker Wolesi Jirga, Mir Rahman Rehmani and other leaders reportedly left the warn-torn country on a Pakistan International Airlines flight.
On Saturday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani told the nation that the defence forces were being remobilised, even as he highlighted he added that “extensive consultations" were being held at "home and abroad”.
Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden ordered deployment of 5,000 troops to Afghanistan with aim for orderly and safe drawdown of American personnel from the troubled country.
Biden, however, ruled out any change in his plans for pullout of US troops from Afghnistan before September 11. US secretary of state Antony Blinken spoke to Ghani and assured him of support in defending Kabul.
As of Sunday, Taliban took over the control of 23 of Afghhan 34 provinces, including Zaranj, Shebergahn, Kunduz, Faizabad, Ghazni, Kandahar, Herat, Mazar-i-Sharif, Jalalabad and Lashkar Gah.
In a related development, Russia's foreign ministry official Zamir Kabulov told news agency Ria Novosti on Sunday that Moscow does not plan to evacuate its embassy in Kabul, after assurances from the Taliban that their embassies would be safe. Russia is working with other countries to hold an emergency UN Security Council meeting on Afghanistan, the Associated Press reported.
The US and other countries rushed to evacuate their citizens from the capital on Sunday.