Brussels 15.08.2021 Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told Qatar’s Al-Jazeera English satellite news channel that they are “awaiting a peaceful transfer of Kabul.” He declined to offer specifics on any possible negotiations between his forces and the government.
Shaheen acknowledged that they were seeking an “unconditional surrender” by the central government.
Taliban negotiators headed to the presidential palace Sunday,August 15, to discuss the transfer, said an Afghan official who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. It remains unclear when that transfer would take place, however it is generally presumed that it it question of hours.
The negotiators on the government side included former President Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah, the head of the Afghan National Reconciliation Council, an official said. Abdullah long has been a vocal critic of President Ashraf Ghani, who long refused giving up power to get a deal with the Taliban.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details of the closed-doors negotiations, described them as “tense.”
Acting Defense Minister Bismillah Khan sought to reassure the public in a video message.
“I assure you about the security of Kabul,” he said. Earlier, the Taliban also tried to calm residents of the capital. “No one’s life, property and dignity will be harmed and the lives of the citizens of Kabul will not be at risk,” reads their statement.
However, a voice message circulating social media purportedly from a Taliban commander also warned “no one is allowed to enter into Kabul province.”
Despite the pledges, panic set in as many rushed to leave the country through the Kabul airport, the last route out of the country as the Taliban now hold every border crossing.
Rapid shuttle flights of Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopters near the U.S. embassy began a few hours later after the insurgents seized the nearby city of Jalalabad. Diplomatic armored SUVs could be seen leaving the area around the post, the AP sources reported.