Taliban largely block Kabul airport | News from the region


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Taliban forces cordoned off Kabul airport to most Afghans in hopes of evacuation, and most NATO countries flown in after two decades in Afghanistan. This ends a rampant airlift that Western leaders said still left many of their citizens and local allies behind. The United States, which says 24-hour flights have evacuated more than 100,000 people since the Taliban claimed Kabul on August 15, was maintaining airlifts ahead of President Joe Biden’s withdrawal deadline on Tuesday. Britain was also carrying out its last evacuation flights on Saturday, although Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed to ‘move heaven and earth’ to smuggle more people at risk from the Taliban to Britain by other means. . Taliban forces were occupying certain positions inside the airport, ready to take control peacefully as US forces took to the skies, spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said. Outside the airport, Taliban leaders deployed additional forces and checkpoints on Saturday to prevent large crowds from gathering after a devastating suicide bombing two days earlier. the group, much more radical than the Taliban, will strike again. The US military told Reuters it killed two IS militants and injured another in a retaliatory drone strike. And that the troops were evacuated. Afghans, meanwhile, face economic crises as many Western governments have refused to support the Taliban regime. In Kabul, hundreds of protesters, many of them government officials, gathered outside a bank while countless others lined up in front of ATMs. Later on Saturday, the central bank ordered the opening of commercial bank branches and allows customers to withdraw $ 200 per week, calling it a temporary measure. The economic crisis, which predates the Taliban takeover, could give Western countries leverage as they urge new Afghan leaders to form a moderate and inclusive government and allow people to leave after Tuesday. Afghanistan relies heavily on international aid, which covered around 75 percent of the budget of the overthrown government backed by the West. The Taliban have said they want good relations with the international community and have promised a more moderate form of Islamic rule than when they last ruled the country, but many Afghans are deeply skeptical. The Taliban cannot access almost any of the central bank’s $ 9 billion reserves, most of which is held by the New York Federal Reserve. The International Monetary Fund has also suspended the transfer of some $ 450 million. Without a steady supply of US dollars, the local currency is at risk of collapsing, which could cause commodity prices to skyrocket. A United Nations agency has warned that a worsening drought threatens the livelihoods of more than 7 million people. Biden said he would meet a self-imposed deadline on Tuesday for the withdrawal of the remaining U.S. forces. The Taliban, which controls almost all of the country outside of Kabul airport, has rejected any expansion. Italy said its last evacuation flight landed in Rome, but that it would work with the United Nations and countries bordering Afghanistan to continue helping Afghans who had worked with its military contingent to leave the country. The Taliban encouraged the Afghans to stay, promising amnesty even to those who fought against them. They said commercial flights will resume after the US pulls out, but it is not clear whether the airlines will be willing to offer service. The United States and its allies have said they will continue to provide humanitarian assistance through the UN and other partners, but any broader engagement – including development assistance – will likely depend on the issue. whether the Taliban are keeping their promises of a more moderate regime. with Reuters Australian Associated Press



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