Afghanistan timeline: America’s last days
- Joe Biden’s deadline for ending the US evacuation from Afghanistan is on Tuesday
- Events over the past month have created a chaotic situation for America’s exit
On Tuesday, August 31, the United States plans to withdraw its last troops out of Afghanistan. Here are the main developments since the Taliban seized Kabul, taking power again in Afghanistan after two decades of war.
On August 15, Taliban fighters appear on the edge of Kabul after a lightning offensive launched in May as US and Nato troops began to withdraw.
In the space of 10 days, they seized city after city across the country with little or no resistance.
Television images show the Taliban taking the presidential palace.
President Ashraf Ghani flees the country and says on Facebook that the “Taliban have won” and that he left to avoid a “flood of bloodshed”.
Frightened people besiege Kabul airport, the only exit route from the country. Chaos breaks out on the tarmac as people try to rush aircraft.
All military and civilian flights are halted, before resuming Monday evening.
‘Terrorism sanctuary’ fears
China becomes the first country to say it is ready to deepen “friendly and cooperative” relations with the Taliban.
It later accuses Washington of “leaving an awful mess”.
The UN Security Council says the country must not become a breeding ground for terrorism.
US retaliates for Kabul airport attack with drone strikes on Afghan capital and border region
Go back to work
The Taliban tell civil servants in Kabul to resume their duties “without any fear”. Some shops reopen and evacuation flights from the city’s airport restart.
‘Women can work’
At their first news conference since seizing power, spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid says the Taliban will let “women work in accordance with the principles of Islam”.
Girls return to school in Taliban-held Herat.
EU ‘must talk’ to Taliban
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell says the bloc will have to talk to the Taliban.
ICC: Possible violations
Karim Khan, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, says reported crimes during the Taliban advance may amount to violations of international law.
‘Collapse’ of Afghanistan
Nato says its allies have deployed enough planes to airlift foreign nationals and their Afghan colleagues from Kabul but ground access to the airport is a “big challenge”.
Taliban leader returns
Within hours of Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar returning to Afghanistan, the group says it will be “different” this time. It will pardon its enemies and women will not have to wear the all-enveloping burka.
Biden says he cannot guarantee the final outcome of the emergency evacuation from Kabul’s airport, calling it one of the most “difficult” airlift operations ever.
The US tells its citizens to avoid travelling to the airport because of “potential security threats” near its gates.
Pressure builds on Biden to extend his August 31 deadline to complete the rescue missions, with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell saying “it’s mathematically impossible” to complete the evacuations by that date.
Britain’s defence ministry says that seven Afghans died in crowds in Kabul, without giving the circumstances. The previous day Sky News aired footage of at least three bodies outside the airport.
Taliban blames US
The Taliban blames the US for the dramatic scenes at Kabul airport, an official saying that “there is peace and calm all over the country, but there is chaos only at Kabul airport”.
There have since been flickers of resistance with some ex-government troops gathering in the Panjsher Valley, north of Kabul.
The National Resistance Front is prepared for a “long-term conflict” but is also still seeking to negotiate with the Taliban about an inclusive government, the movement’s spokesman Ali Maisam Nazary says.
Hundreds of Taliban fighters are heading to the Panjsher valley “to control it, after local state officials refused to hand it over peacefully”, the group wrote on its Arabic Twitter account.
On the 23rd, the Taliban describe the August 31 deadline for evacuations as a “red line”.
On the 24th, Biden says he has decided to stick to his August 31 deadline to pull American forces out of Afghanistan, after talks with G7 counterparts.
On the 25th, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the Taliban will allow Americans and at-risk Afghans to leave after August 31.
A suicide bomb on August 26 claimed by Islamic State rips through crowds outside Kabul airport, killing scores of civilians as well as 13 US service members.
The following day, Britain, France and Spain become among the latest countries to end their evacuations from Kabul.
More than 100,000 people have been flown out of the country since August 14, according to the US government.