(KABUL, Afghanistan) — With the U.S. military and diplomatic withdrawal now complete after 20 years in Afghanistan, the Taliban has taken over the country, including the Kabul airport, the site of an often-desperate evacuation effort the past two weeks.
But even as the last American troops were flown out to meet President Joe Biden’s Aug. 31 deadline, other Americans who wanted to flee the country were left behind and the Biden administration is now focused on a “diplomatic mission” to help them leave.
When President Joe Biden sat down with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos for an exclusive one-on-one interview at the White House on Aug. 18, he said he was committed to keeping the U.S. military in Afghanistan as long as needed. “If there are American citizens left, we’re going to stay until we get them all out,” he said.
Here are the latest developments. All times Eastern:
Sep 06, 4:53 am
Taliban claims victory over Panjshir, last pocket of resistance
The Taliban claimed victory Monday over Afghan opposition forces in Panjshir province, the last pocket of resistance in Afghanistan and the only province that the Taliban had not seized last month.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid issued a statement saying Panjshir was under full control of Taliban fighters.
“We tried our best to solve the problem through negotiations, and they rejected talks and then we had to send our forces to fight,” Mujahid later told a press conference in Kabul on Monday.
The Taliban posted photos and videos on social media apparently showing fighters standing at the gate of the Panjshir provincial governor’s office and raising the group’s flag in the provincial capital.
A spokesperson for the resistance group, the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRF), took to Twitter to deny that Panjshir had fallen.
“Taliban’s claim of occupying Panjshir is false,” the spokesperson tweeted. “The NRF forces are present in all strategic positions across the valley to continue the fight. We assure the ppl of Afghanistan that the struggle against the Taliban & their partners will continue until justice & freedom prevails.”
Sep 05, 6:31 pm
Some US citizens unable to fly out of Afghanistan due to Taliban interference
The Taliban is blocking efforts to get U.S. citizens out of Afghanistan on flights, according to a non-governmental organization arranging travel for some passengers.
Marina LeGree, the CEO of Ascend, told ABC News that the Taliban has prevented 600 people from leaving Mazar-e-Sharif by charter plane for six days.
The NGO is helping 100 of those passengers, none of whom are American, to try to fly out. LeGree said she is aware of 19 U.S. citizens who are trying to leave but Ascend is not overseeing their departure.
“Ascend, an organization dedicated to empowering young women through athletics, has members trying to leave Afghanistan,” LeGree told ABC News in a statement Sunday. “We call on the Taliban to honor their commitments and allow these charters to depart immediately.”
The affected passengers are either staying at the airport or at nearby hotels, according to LeGree.
The U.S. Department of State did not confirm whether there are Americans on those flights, but said it “will hold the Taliban to its pledge to let people freely depart Afghanistan.”
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