Fall of Kabul: Striking photos point to uncertain future

Some of the striking images and the main developments since Taliban took Kabul, confirming their takeover of power in Afghanistan. 

Schoolgirls attend class in Herat

(Schoolgirls attend class in Herat on August 17, 2021, following the Taliban stunning takeover of the country.)

On August 15 2021, Taliban fighters appear on the edge of Kabul after a lightning offensive that began in May as US and NATO troops began to withdraw. In the space of 10 days, they seized city after city across the country without resistance. 

Under the militants' hardline 1996-2001 rule, girls' schools were closed, women were prevented from travelling and working and were forced to wear an all-covering burqa in public. 


An unwell man on a wheelbarrow

(A porter pushes a wheelbarrow carrying an unwell Afghan national accompanied by his relative as they arrive into Pakistan at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border crossing point in Chaman on August 17, 2021.)

The international community has been taken by surprise by the speed of Afghanistan's fall, as Pope Francis called for "dialogue" and NATO urged "a political solution to the conflict".


Men stand next to the a torn poster of Ashraf Ghani

(Afghan men stand next to the a torn poster of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at the Kabul airport in Kabul on August 16, 2021.)

On August 15 evening, former vice president Abdullah Abdullah announced that president Ghani has left the country. The Taliban then said their militants have entered multiple districts of the capital. 


Child walks near military uniforms

(An Afghan child walks near military uniforms as he with elders wait to leave the Kabul airport in Kabul on August 16, 2021.)

US President Joe Biden cut short his vacation to address the Afghanistan situation. Speaking from the White House he said he has no regrets and emphasised US troops cannot defend a nation whose leaders "gave up and fled". "We gave them every chance to determine their own future. We could not provide them with the will to fight for that future," Biden said.


People climb atop a plane

(Afghan people climb atop a plane as they wait at the airport in Kabul on August 16, 2021.)

As the Taliban entered in Kabul on August 15, people besieged the airport, the only exit route from the country and chaos broke out on the tarmac, carrying on into August 16 as people were trying to board the few flights available.


US soldier point his gun towards a passenger

(A US soldier (C) point his gun towards an Afghan passenger at the Kabul airport in Kabul on August 16, 2021.)

US troops even opened fire, killing two armed men, the Pentagon said. All military and civilian flights were halted at Kabul airport.


People sit by the door of a plane

(Afghan people climb up on a plane and sit by the door as they wait at the Kabul airport in Kabul on August 16, 2021.)

The United States and Western allies evacuated diplomats and civilians from Kabul. US forces took charge of the airport - their only way to fly out of Afghanistan. US military flights evacuating diplomats and civilians from Afghanistan restarted on August 17 after the runway at Kabul airport was cleared of thousands desperate to flee following the Taliban's sudden takeover of the capital.


People at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border

(Afghan nationals queue up at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border crossing point in Chaman on August 17, 2021.)

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson called for G7 leaders to hold a virtual meeting "in the coming days". UK's Defence Minister Ben Wallace said the Taliban takeover is a "failure of the international community".


Man pulls a girl to get inside Kabul airport

(A man pulls a girl to get inside Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan August 16, 2021.)

The Taliban moved quickly on August 17 to restart Kabul, telling government staff to resume their duties "without any fear". Some shops reopened and evacuation flights from Kabul's airport restarted.


Taliban fighter holds RPG rocket

(A Taliban fighter holds RPG rocket propelled as he stands guard with others at an entrance gate outside the Interior Ministry in Kabul on August 17, 2021.

The UN Security Council said the international community must ensure Afghanistan does not become a breeding ground for terrorism under the Taliban, following an emergency meeting in New York.

French President Emmanuel Macron added Afghanistan should not become again the "sanctuary of terrorism".


Satellite image shows chaos

(This handout satellite image released by Maxar Technologies shows crowds of people at the terminal, during the chaotic scene underway at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport in Afghanistan as thousands of people converged on the tarmac and airport runways as countries attempt to evacuate personnel from the city on August 16, 2021.)

Up to 600 members of Afghan security forces were helping provide security at the Kabul airport, the scene of chaotic evacuation efforts, even as the country's military and the government has collapsed, the Pentagon said on August 17.


People clambered onto the flight from Kabul

(Evacuees crowd the interior of a US Air Force C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft, carrying some 640 Afghans to Qatar from Kabul, Afghanistan August 15, 2021. Picture taken August 15, 2021. Courtesy of Defense One/Handout via REUTERS)

More than 600 Afghan men, women and children, crouching and crammed up against each other on the floor of a US military plane, left Kabul after the city was seized by Taliban insurgents.

A photograph showing the Afghan civilians - some clutching luggage, others bottle-feeding infants - on the C-17 cargo aircraft has gone viral on social media.

A US official told Reuters about 640 people clambered onto the flight from Kabul on August 15, when thousands of people desperate to flee the country surged to the airport in the Afghan capital.

(inputs from agencies)


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