Afghanistan Live Updates: Taliban Takes Full Control, Countries Scramble To Evacuate Officials

Live Updates

As the Taliban quickly took over Afghanistan, many nations are rushing to evacuate their officials and Afghan aids from the capital city Kabul.

Chaos ensued at Kabul's international airport, with dozens trying to hold onto evacuation plans as they take off. After video circulated online of Afghans clinging to planes as they took off, many people compared the scene to the fall of Saigon.

At least seven people died during the evacuation efforts and U.S. troops shot two armed individuals at the airport Monday, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby told reporters.

At a United Nations Security Committee meeting, officials expressed concern over the Taliban's human rights abuses and called for an end to violence and the establishment of a new government in Afghanistan that is "united, inclusive and representative—including with the full, equal and meaningful participation of women."

Women across Afghanistan are fearful for the loss of freedom they expect to come ad the Taliban takes control once again.

President Joe Biden will address the nation on the situation in Afghanistan Monday afternoon after the U.S. plans to send in more troops to help evacuation efforts and open its doors to Afghan refugees.

The updates for this blog have ended.

KEY MOMENTS

Taliban Patrol
A Taliban fighter mans a machinegun on top of a vehicle as they patrol along a street in Kabul on August 16, 2021, after a stunningly swift end to Afghanistan's 20-year war, as thousands of people mobbed the city's airport trying to flee the group's feared hardline brand of Islamist rule. Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images

UN Security Council calls for an end to violence, the formation of an inclusive government in Afghanistan

The United Nations Security Council called for an end to violence and the establishment of a new government in Afghanistan that is "united, inclusive and representative—including with the full, equal and meaningful participation of women."

"Institutional continuity and adherence to Afghanistan's international obligations, as well as the safety and security of all Afghan and international citizens, must be ensured," Council President T.S. Tirumurti of India said in a statement.

The Council called for "the restoration of security, civil and constitutional order" and negotiations to "arrive at a peaceful settlement through an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned process of national reconciliation."

The Council expressed concern over violations of international humanitarian law and human rights abuses and "stressed the urgent and imperative need to bring the perpetrators to justice."

They also called for strengthened efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan and "reaffirmed the importance of combating terrorism in Afghanistan"

Merkel, Macron speak out on helping Afghan migrants

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called the latest developments in Afghanistan "bitter, dramatic and awful."

Merkel told reporters on Monday that the "breathtaking speed" with which the Taliban have taken over is especially bitter for the "millions of Afghans who supported a more liberal society and who counted on the support of the Western countries when it comes to democracy, education, women's rights and who also had achieved important progress."

"We need to make sure that the many people who have big worries and concerns, even though they have not worked with German institutions, have a secure stay in countries neighboring Afghanistan," Merkel said.

French President Emmanuel Macron said that Afganistan should not become a "sanctuary for terrorism" again.

"This is key for international security and peace," he said in a televised address, "We will do everything for Russia, the United States and Europe to cooperate efficiently as our interests are the same."

Macron said he would welcome migrants and protect Afghans who "worked for France to safety."

"It is our duty and our dignity to protect those who help us," he said.

"A lot of members of the Afghan civil society, defenders of rights, artists, journalists are today under threat," he added. "We will welcome them because it's France's honor to be alongside those who fight for freedom."

U.S. Secretary of State spoke with Russian and Chinese diplomats about Afghanistan

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Russian and Chinese diplomats regarding the situation in Afghanistan.

According to the State Department, Blinken spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov "about developments in Afghanistan, including the security situation and our efforts to bring U.S. citizens and vulnerable Afghans to safety."

Blinken also spoke to People's Republic of China State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi about their respective efforts to bring U.S. and PRC citizens to safety.

Taliban agreed to "deconfliction mechanism" terms

The Taliban agreed to "deconfliction mechanism" terms and will allow evacuations from Kabul, the Associated Press reported.

General Frank McKenzie, the head of U.S. Central Command, met with the Taliban Sunday in Qatar to discuss terms to get refugees out of Afghanistan, a U.S. official said.

READ MORE: "Taliban Agrees to 'Deconfliction' Terms, Allows Evacuations at Afghanistan's Kabul Airport"

U.K. Prime Minister plans to hold a G7 meeting on Afghanistan

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to hold a virtual G7 meeting to discuss the situation in Afghanistan, a Downing Street spokesperson said.

According to Downing Street, Johnson stressed the need for the international community to "come together and take a unified approach on Afghanistan, both in terms of recognizing any future government and in working to prevent a humanitarian and refugee crisis."

This comes after Johnson's phone call with French President Emmanual Macron.

"They agreed that the UK and France should work together at the UN Security Council, including on a possible joint-resolution," the spokesman added.

Amnesty International's Secretary-General urges "swift action" from foreign leaders

Amnesty International's Secretary-General called the situation in Afghanistan a "tragedy that should have been foreseen and averted" and urges "swift action" from the international community.

"Thousands of Afghans at serious risk of Taliban reprisals," Agnes Callamard said in a statement. She said academics, journalists, activists and women human rights defenders "are in danger of being abandoned to a deeply uncertain future."

Callamard called on foreign governments to "take every necessary measure to ensure the safe passage out of Afghanistan for all those at risk of being targeted by the Taliban," including expediting visas, providing resettlement and suspending deportations.

"As Afghanistan's people face up to a stark new reality, the UN Security Council must also adopt an emergency resolution calling on the Taliban – who now effectively control the country – to respect international human rights law, protect civilians, and end reprisal attacks, as negotiations on transitional arrangements continue."

There will be 3,000 U.S. troops at the Kabul airport tomorrow

There are about 2,500 U.S. troops currently at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said during a briefing Monday.

The Department of Defense expects to send an additional 500 troops "from both the 82nd Airborne Division and battalions from a marine expeditionary unit" to the airport over the next 24 hours, Kirby said.

Uzbekistan shot down plane fleeing Afghanistan

Uzbekistan's Defense Ministry confirmed Monday that it downed an Afghan military plane that attempted to illegally cross into the country's airspace Sunday.

After the plane went down in southeastern Ukekistan Sunday, officials said they were studying the crash but did not provide further details.

On Monday, an Uzbekistan Defense Ministry official told Russia's state RIA Novosti news agency that the country's air defense system "averted an attempt by an Afghan military plane to illegally cross Uzbekistan's air border."

RIA Novosti reported that two pilots from the plane survived the crash and have been hospitalized in serious condition.

READ MORE: "Military Plane Fleeing Afghanistan Shot Down by Uzbekistan"

U.S. to send 1,000 more troops to Afghanistan

The U.S. military will send another 1,000 troops to secure the Kabul airport amid evacuation efforts, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby told reports in a briefing Monday.

This new addition increases the total number of American troops in Afghanistan to 7,000.

Kirby also confirmed that U.S. forces shot and killed two armed individuals at the Kabul airport.

"In two separate incidents, U.S. forces did respond to hostile threats, and that resulted in the death of two armed individuals," Kirby said.

Afghanistan UN ambassador asks UN to call for an end to violence

Ghulam Isaczai, the Afghan ambassador to the United Nations, said the UN Security Council must call for an end to the violence in Afghanistan.

"The Security Council and the UN Secretary-General should use every means at its disposal to call for an immediate cessation of violence and respect for human rights and international humanitarian law," he said during the Security Council meeting.

Isaczai said he is "extremely concerned" that the Taliban will not honor its promises and commitments made in their statements at Doha and at other international forums.

He said he was speaking on behalf of millions of people in Afghanistan "whose fate hangs in the balance, and are faced with an extremely uncertain future," included girls, women, journalists, civil servants and those who were displaced.

Isaczai added that there are reports from Kabul residents of targeted killings, looting and Taliban home searches.

"Kabul residents are living in absolute fear right now," he said.

President Biden will make address on Afghanistan Monday afternoon

President Joe Biden will address the nation about the crisis in Afghanistan Monday at 3:45 p.m. ET.

I will be addressing the nation on Afghanistan at 3:45 PM ET today.

— President Biden (@POTUS) August 16, 2021

READ MORE: "Live Updates: Joe Biden Addresses Taliban's Afghanistan Takeover, Efforts to Evacuate Americans"

At least 7 people killed during evacuation at Kabul airport

At least seven people have been killed during the evacuation chaos at the Kabul airport in Afghanistan, a U.S. official told the Associated Press.

Those killed include several people who fell off the side of a plane leaving the airport.

U.S. airlifts resume at Kabul airport

The U.S. has resumed military flights out of the Kabul airport, a U.S. defense official told CNN's Barbara Starr.

While crowds have been cleared from the airfield, the military anticipates more sporadic clearing operations if crowds continue to gather on the tarmac.

UN Secretary-General: "We cannot and must not abandon the people of Afghanistan"

United Nations Secretary-General Antonia Guterres called on the international community to "suppress the global terrorist threat in Afghanistan and guarantee that basic human rights will be respected" during his address to the UN Security Council.

"I call upon the Taliban and all parties to respect and protect international humanitarian law and the rights and freedoms of all persons," he said. "I am particularly concerned by accounts of mounting human rights violations against the women and girls of Afghanistan who fear a return to the darkest days."

Guterres said that 18 million people could be affected by a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and calls on world leaders to receive Afghan refugees.

He also urged the need to ensure "that Afghanistan is never again used as a platform or safe haven for terrorist organizations."

"Looking ahead, I call for an immediate end to violence, for the rights of all Afghans to be respected and for Afghanistan to comply with all international agreements to which it is a party," he said. "We cannot and must not abandon the people of Afghanistan."

The @UN presence will adapt to the security situation.

But above all, we will stay and deliver in support of the Afghan people in their hour of need - @antonioguterres

— UN Spokesperson (@UN_Spokesperson) August 16, 2021

Pentagon aims to relocate up to 30,000 Afghan Special Immigrant Visa applicants into the U.S.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told CNN that the Department of Defense is aiming to relocate up to 30,000 Afghan Special Immigrant Visa applicants into the US.

The State Department will identify the individuals for transport and the Defense Department will facilitate their transportation to and housing at Fort Bliss in Texas and Fort McCoy in Wisconsin, according to Kirby.

This is a reversal of President Joe Biden's previous claim that "the law does not allow" evacuated Afghan translators to await visa processing in the U.S.

Kirby said there will be a mix of American citizens and Afghan SIV applicants on airlifts out of Kabul.

U.S. suspends flights at Kabul airport

The U.S. military has temporarily suspended air operations at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.

CNN's Barbara Starr reported that troops are trying to clear Afghans off the tarmac.

The suspension is "while we make sure the airfield is secure," the official said.

Biden will address the American people soon, national security adviser Jake Sullivan says

National security adviser Jake Sullivan said Monday the American people can expect to hear from President Joe Biden "soon."

During an interview on ABC Monday morning, Sullivan said Biden, who is currently at Camp David, is "deeply engaged" with his national security team regarding the mission to evacuate Americans and Afghans.

"At the right point he will absolutely address the American people," Sullivan said.

Sullivan said Biden thought that Afghan security forces would have fought the Taliban, given the nearly two decades of support from the U.S.

"He thought the Afghan national security forces could step up and fight because we spent 20 years, tens of billions of dollars training them, giving them the best equipment, giving them support of U.S. forces for 20 years and when push came to shove, they decided not to step up and fight for their country," Sullivan said.

China willing to engage in "friendly and cooperative" relations with Afghanistan

China said it was in contact with the Taliban and hopes to engage in "friendly and cooperative" relations with Afghanistan.

"The Afghan Taliban have repeatedly expressed their hope to develop good relations with China and look forward to China's participation in the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan and will never allow any forces to use Afghan territory to endanger China," Hua Chunying, spokesperson of China's Foreign Ministry said at a daily press briefing on Monday.

Hua added that China "respects the right of the Afghan people to independently determine their own destiny" and looks to develop "friendly and cooperative neighbor relations with Afghanistan."

"[China would like to] play a constructive role in the peace and reconstruction of Afghanistan," she said.

President Biden approval rating hits all-time low

President Joe Biden's approval rating has hit an all-time low amid the crisis in Afghanistan.

According to FiveThirtyEight's tracker, which puts together a weighted average of polling, the president's approval rating as of August 13 is 50 percent.

His disapproval rating hit its highest point since he took office at 43.8 percent.

READ MORE: "Joe Biden Approval Rating Hits Record Low Amid Afghanistan Crisis"

U.S will send more troops to aid evacuation efforts in Afghanistan

The U.S. Department of Defense and the State Department released a joint statement on the situation in Afghanistan Sunday.

Over the next two days, the U.S. will expand the number of troops deployed to evacuate American and Afghan personnel.

"At present we are completing a series of steps to secure the Hamid Karzai International Airport to enable the safe departure of U.S. and allied personnel from Afghanistan via civilian and military flights," the statement said. "Over the next 48 hours, we will have expanded our security presence to nearly 6,000 troops, with a mission focused solely on facilitating these efforts and will be taking over air traffic control."

The U.S. will remove American citizens residing in Afghanistan, locally employed staff and other "particularly vulnerable" Afghan nationals from the country. Additionally, the U.S. will "accelerate the evacuation of thousands of Afghans eligible for U.S. Special Immigrant Visas."

"For all categories, Afghans who have cleared security screening will continue to be transferred directly to the United States and we will find additional locations for those yet to be screened," the statement said.

Boris Johnson to hold emergency Cobra meeting

The British Prime Minister announced he has put holiday plans on hold - unlike Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab - and will head an emergency meeting about Afghanistan in the next few minutes.

International bodies hold crisis talks

The United Nations Security Council will meet later today to discuss Afghanistan - including whether or not to recognize the shift in power.

European Union foreign ministers will hold emergency talks tomorrow to make "a first assessment" of developments.

Finnish embassy staff evacuated with U.S. help

The staff at the embassy in Kabul have fled to a neighboring country using an American military plane after Finnish soldiers coordinated the plan.

Watch: Horrifying videos show Afghans falling off evacuation plane

[WARNING: Disturbing content]

Footage from Kabul's airport shows hundreds of Afghans trying desperately to cling to U.S. planes evacuating officials from the country.

Videos posted online show a number of men falling off a U.S. jet shortly after take-off - and the bodies after hitting the ground.

Not a scene of Hollywood, it’s Just #Kabul air port, people want to run away, after the Capture of Kabul by the #Talibans #Afghanistan
By: @Mukhtarwafayee pic.twitter.com/ZLYieJm9mX

— Aśvaka - آسواکا News Agency (@AsvakaNews) August 16, 2021

Warning-Graphic
Locals while collecting the bodies of three men Clinging to the wheels of the plane that took off from #Kabul airport, they were then fell to the ground near Khairkahana area of Kabul#Afghanistan #Taliban pic.twitter.com/N14U55CZmj

— Aśvaka - آسواکا News Agency (@AsvakaNews) August 16, 2021

Russia unlikely to recognize the Taliban, special envoy says

The decision will depend on the Taliban's behavior in the coming months, Zamir Kabulov said in an interview with a Moscow radio station.

Firstly, no one is going to rush with this. Recognition or non-recognition will depend on the behavior of the new authorities. We will carefully watch how responsibly they will govern the country in the near future. As a result, the Russian leadership will draw the necessary conclusions and make a decision.

Kabulov confirmed that Russian ambassador to Afghanistan Dmitry Zhirnov is talking with the Taliban leadership and that he is satisfied there is currently no threat to the Russian Embassy in Kabul, meaning staff will not be evacuated alongside other countries.

China willing to develop 'friendly relations' with Taliban - reports

The country appears to be the first to recognize the Taliban as the new government in Afghanistan, according to reports from news agency AFP.

Uzbekistan investigating reported crashed aircraft with Afghan military markings

Uzbekistan's Defense Ministry said Monday it was studying reports that an airplane with Afghan military identification marks on it has crashed.

Uzbek media reported that the plane went down Sunday evening in the southeast of the country not far from the border with Afghanistan. At least one person was reported injured.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Oman - unconfirmed reports

Tajikistan has confirmed it refused to give permission for Ghani's plane to land yesterday.

The incident prompted much speculation online about his whereabouts - Newsweek is working to verify reports.

U.K. Defence Secretary struggles to hold back tears during interview

The U.K.'s Defence Secretary struggled to hold back the tears earlier during an interview on British radio station LBC.

Ben Wallace, who once served in the military, said that "some people won't come back" and that he "hates" watching the events in Afghanistan unfold.

He stated that British forces were, like allies, now only in the country secure an exit for those entitled to leave.

Our obligation has to be at least to get as many people through the pipeline as possible...it's a really deep regret for me...look, some people won't get back.

Australia sends jets and soldiers to evacuate Aussies and refugees

Australia is sending three transport and air-to-air refueling jets with 250 military personnel to repatriate around 130 Australians and their families, officials confirmed in the past hour.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the country is also working to evacuate a number of refugees - but refused to give a number.

Taliban attempts to project calms despite chaos

The U.S. and allies have managed a chaotic evacuation from Afghanistan on Monday as the Taliban patrolled the capital and tried to project calm.

Thousands of Afghans in fear of a return to Taliban rule are stranded at the capital's international airport while reports suggest women are "in hiding".

Schools and workplaces are closed this morning as the city tries to come to terms with the situation.

The terrorist group are claiming to want a peaceful takeover of the country, hoping to rebrand as a recognised government, but many western countries have said they will refuse to recognise any Taliban regime.

Chaos at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul as thousands try to escape

Thousands fled to the airport, which has canceled all commercial flights, yesterday as Taliban forces took over the city.

Reports from Reuters suggests five people have died so far during stampedes to climb aboard planes waiting on the runway.

The U.S. embassy in Kabul has told Americans to stay away from the airport until further notice.

We remind all American citizens and Afghan nationals that the security situation in Kabul remains unsafe. Please do not travel to the airport until notified. https://t.co/GFoQZrmMXs

— U.S. Embassy Kabul (@USEmbassyKabul) August 16, 2021

Good morning and welcome to Newsweek's liveblog

Taliban forces are this morning cementing control over Afghanistan as thousands flee to safety, while the U.S. and its allies evacuate remaining troops.

Follow Newsweek's liveblog throughout Monday for all the latest.