Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani has reportedly fled the country as the Taliban entered the capital Kabul, meeting little resistance.
The embattled president joined thousands of Afghans and foreigners to flee from the advancing Taliban.
The BBC reports that Mr Ghani is bound for Tajikistan and his departure signals that the government had collapsed in the war-torn country.
Taliban fighters entered Afghanistan’s presidential palace hours after Mr Ghani fled the country, according to several media reports.
The group has been capturing more cities in Afghanistan since the U.S. started pulling its troops from the country.
In less than two weeks, fighters encircled the capital Kabul after capturing 26 of the country’s 34 provincial capitals.
American President Joe Biden has said he would not reverse his stance.
On Saturday, Mr Biden authorised the deployment of 5,000 U.S. troops for an “orderly & safe drawdown” of his country’s personnel.
He also warned the Taliban that “any action on their part on the ground in Afghanistan, that puts U.S personnel at risk there, will be met with a swift and strong U.S military response.”
Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid said their fighters have been ordered to prevent looting in the city and allow safe passage for anyone wanting to leave.
In a statement, he said the group’s fighters had been instructed not to push further into the city with force.
“We want to enter Kabul with peace, and talks are underway” with the government, he said.
Negotiators representing the national government were headed to Doha, Qatar, on Sunday to discuss an agreement with the Taliban’s political leadership, a senior official close to Mr Ghani was quoted as saying.
“There is an agreement that there will be a transitional administration for orderly transfer of power,” the acting interior minister, Abdul Satar Mirzakwal, told Associated Press (AP).
He added that security forces were being deployed across Kabul to ensure order.
Many experts had predicted that with U.S. forces leaving Afghanistan, the Taliban would retake the country in about six months and form a government there.
The Taliban, who promote strict Islamic Shariah law, governed Afghanistan until the U.S. invasion in 2001 after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack in the U.S.
U.S. personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan were being relocated to the airport to “ensure they can operate safely and securely”, U.S Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said countries should not recognise the Taliban.
“We don’t want anybody bilaterally recognising the Taliban,” he said.
“We want a united position amongst all the like-minded as far as we can get one,” Mr Johnson said.
The United Arab Emirates’ foreign ministry said it was working on facilitating the evacuation of foreign diplomatic staff from Afghanistan through airports in the Gulf Arab State.
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