Pakistan

Taliban nears Kabul as major cities fall in Afghanistan

The Taliban armed group has captured the provincial capitals, Qalat, Terenkot, Pul-e Alam, Feruz Koh, Qala-e Naw and Lashkar Gah, hours after capturing Herat and Kandahar cities.

It so far has control over 18 provincial capitals across Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is tipping towards civil war and the West must understand that the Taliban is not a single entity but a title for a myriad of competing interests, the United Kingdom’s defence minister says.

“Britain found that out in the 1830s, that it is a country led by warlords and led by different provinces and tribes, and you end up, if you’re not very careful in a civil war, and I think we are heading towards a civil war,” Defence Secretary Ben Wallace tells the BBC.

“The Taliban is not entirely a single entity, they break down underneath the title into all sorts of different interests,” Wallace said.

Swiss to withdraw Swiss staff from Kabul bureau

The Swiss government will withdraw remaining Swiss staff from its cooperation bureau it has said.

There were just three Swiss staff left there following earlier reductions. “They too will leave Kabul as soon as possible,” Deputy Foreign Minister Livia Leu told a news briefing in Bern.

Local staff who want to leave can apply for Swiss humanitarian visas, she added. The cooperation office supervises development and humanitarian aid programmes.

Kabul residents fearful of Taliban rule

Kabul residents are worried about potential Taliban rule, remembering 20 years ago when the group had control of the city and were ruling most of the country.

“The Taliban ruled here before and they didn’t rule in the peoples’ interest, people think that they will act the same,” Zamanuddin Khan told The Associated Press.

Ahmad Sakhi said provinces are falling “day by day; the government should do something, the people are facing lots of problems”.

Germany stops development projects in areas seized by the Taliban

The German Development Ministry is suspending all of its activities in areas of Afghanistan that have been captured by the Taliban.

“German development project funds will not be used in Taliban areas,” Development Minister Gerd Mueller said.

The projects have been temporarily stopped or are in the process of being suspended, he said.

NATO to support Afghan government ‘as much as possible’

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said the alliance would keep its civilian diplomatic presence in Afghanistan as it tries to support the Afghan government and security forces in the face of the Taliban’s offensive.

“Our aim remains to support the Afghan government and security forces as much as possible. The security of our personnel is paramount. NATO will maintain our diplomatic presence in Kabul, and continue to adjust as necessary,” Stoltenberg said, in a statement following a meeting of NATO envoys.

Denmark to shut Kabul embassy, Finland evacuates staff

Denmark will temporarily shut its Kabul embassy and evacuate all staff and Finland will take in up to 130 local Afghan workers, ministers from both Nordic countries have said.

“The government has decided to evacuate all employees of the embassy. At the same time, we have decided to temporarily close our embassy in Kabul”, Danish foreign minister Jeppe Kofod said in a press release, calling on Danes in Afghanistan to leave immediately.

Finland’s foreign minister Pekka Haavisto told a press conference that parliament ruled the country could “take in up to 130 Afghans who have worked in the service of Finland, the EU and NATO along with their families” because of “the quickly weakening security situation”.

France pledges ‘exceptional effort’ to host Afghan rights defenders

France has vowed to make “an exceptional effort” to welcome Afghan rights defenders who may be threatened by the Taliban, the presidential office has said.

Paris is still granting visas from Kabul, one of only three European countries to continue doing so as the situation deteriorates, the Elysee told AFP news agency.

“Given France’s constant support for the men and women of Afghanistan’s civil society – artists, journalists, rights defenders – whose lives are at risk because of their commitment to freedom of expression and opinion or to human rights, an exceptional effort is being made to facilitate their access to French territory,” it said in a statement.

France reiterates call for citizens to leave

France’s foreign ministry has reiterated a call for French citizens to leave Afghanistan as soon as possible.

“In light of the deteriorating security situation, we again called on French citizens last week to leave the country as soon as possible,” it said in a statement in response to a written question about whether France planned to evacuate its embassy and its citizens from the country.

France reiterates call for citizens to leave

France’s foreign ministry has reiterated a call for French citizens to leave Afghanistan as soon as possible.

“In light of the deteriorating security situation, we again called on French citizens last week to leave the country as soon as possible,” it said in a statement in response to a written question about whether France planned to evacuate its embassy and its citizens from the country.

Iran says Afghan soldiers enter southeastern Iran

Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency claims that some Afghan military vehicles have crossed the border into Iran after being sieged by the Taliban.

Germany significantly reducing embassy staff

The German government will reduce the number of people working at the German embassy in Kabul to the “absolute minimum,” Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has said.

“The government’s crisis coordination team also decided to bring forward charter flights that were originally planned for the end of August,” Maas told journalists in Denzlingen in southern Germany.

The minister said the aim was to fly out embassy staff as well as local Afghan helpers with these flights. Afghans without visas would get their papers in Germany to speed up the process.

Conflict taking heaviest toll on displaced women, children: UNHCR

The Afghanistan conflict is taking the heaviest toll on displaced women and children, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has said.

“We are particularly worried about the impact of the conflict on women and girls. Some 80 per cent of nearly a quarter of a million Afghans forced to flee since the end of May are women and children,” UNHCR spokesperson Shabia Mantoo said at a press briefing in Geneva.

Some 400,000 people have been forced from their homes since the beginning of the year, joining some other 2.9 million Afghans who remain internally displaced across the country, Mantoo said.

Prague says it will not suspend deportations to Afghanistan

The Czech Republic will continue with deportations of unsuccessful asylum seekers back to Afghanistan despite the deteriorating security situation, Interior Minister Jan Hamacek has been quoted as saying.

Some European Union countries, including Denmark and Germany, have suspended deportations.

“The Czech Republic is treating each asylum application individually, it examines the reasons thoroughly to determine whether to grant (asylum) or not. We won’t make any blanket exceptions,” Hamacek told the news website www.idnes.cz.

British PM to convene emergency meeting

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will hold an emergency response meeting on Friday to discuss the situation in Afghanistan, a spokesperson has said.

The spokesperson gave no other details but earlier, Johnson’s defence minister, Ben Wallace, said the UK could return to Afghanistan if the country started hosting al-Qaeda in a way that threatened the West.

“The Prime Minister is convening a COBR this afternoon to discuss the current situation in Afghanistan,” the spokesperson said, referring to the Civil Contingencies Committee.

Afghanistan calls for UN Security Council meeting: Russia

The Russian foreign minister says the Afghan government has requested a meeting of the UN Security Council over the deteriorating situation in the country where the Taliban made significant military gains.

Speaking at a news conference in the Rostov Oblast region, Sergey Lavrov said such a meeting would be helpful if used to launch constructive talks between the Afghan sides.

NATO meets over Western embassy staff reduction

NATO ambassadors are meeting to discuss the rapidly deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan and to coordinate national measures to reduce embassy staff in Kabul, a security source has told Reuters news agency.

The Western alliance has ended military operations in Afghanistan after almost 20 years and withdrawn most troops from the country but still serves as a forum to coordinate national measures there.

Al Jazeera

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