Photos: A Week in Review of the Taliban's Takeover of Afghanistan

For many Afghans who were fearful of their country's future due to the imminent withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, this past week has unfolded into chaotic and hasty evacuations that no one was prepared for.

After the Taliban's quick takeover of Afghanistan's capital Kabul on Sunday, the U.S. began rapidly evacuating its embassy as many Afghans who have helped the military throughout 20 years of war or are in fear for their lives desperately sought ways to flee the country.

On Monday, images and video footage showed thousands of people flooding the tarmac at Kabul's international airport and hanging from U.S. military jets as a last-ditch effort to join the remaining diplomatic staff departing Afghanistan.

Afghanistan Airport Kabul Plane Evacuation Taliban
Afghan people climb atop a plane as they wait at the Kabul airport in Kabul on August 16, after a 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
Afghanistan Kabul Airport Taliban Ashraf Ghani
Afghans crowd at the tarmac of the Kabul airport on August 16 to flee the country as the Taliban were in control of Afghanistan after President Ashraf Ghani fled the country and conceded the insurgents had won the 20-year war. AFP
Afghan Passengers Kabul Airport Flee Taliban
Afghan passengers wait to leave the Kabul airport in Kabul on August 16 after the 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

President Joe Biden flew back to the White House on Monday, earlier than expected as he was visiting Camp David, to address the nation on the ongoing evacuations in Afghanistan.

Biden defended the decision to withdraw U.S. troops out of the country in his first remarks addressing the fall of government in Kabul, adding that the takeover by the Taliban happened much quicker than his administration anticipated. He also pointed to Afghan forces' unwillingness to fight for the quick fall.

"American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves," Biden said. "We gave them every chance to determine their own future. We could not provide them with the will to fight for that future."

"I know my decision will be criticized, but I would rather take all that criticism than pass this decision on to a future president," he added.

Joe Biden Afghanistan War Taliban Withdrawal
President Joe Biden speaks about the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan from the White House on August 16. Brendan Smialowski/AFP

On Tuesday, the U.S. resumed air operations after commercial flights out of Kabul's airport were cancelled a day earlier. Although the U.S. controls the military side of the airport, the Taliban controls access roads to Hamid Karzai International Airport.

International demonstrators protested around the globe calling on world leaders to help the people of Afghanistan, particularly Afghan women and girls.

Protest Afghanistan Berlin Germany Taliban Evacuation
A participant holds up a placard reading 'Evacuate! Air lifts right now!' during a demonstration in Berlin on August 17 to demand the safe passage and airlift out of Afghanistan, where people try flee the country after the Taliban swept back to power. John MacDougall/AFP
Afghan Protest Taliban Los Angeles
The Afghan community and supporters attend a candlelight vigil to demonstrate against the Taliban regaining power in Afghanistan outside the federal building in Los Angeles on August 17. Barbara Davidson/Getty

The Taliban's takeover has prompted fears of what lies ahead for women in the country. The group's strict following of Islamic Shariah had largely confined women to their homes when the Taliban was in power two decades ago.

But the Taliban has denied that the same rules would apply now, promising to respect women and give them more freedoms.

At a Tuesday press conference, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said there would be "no violence against women" in Afghanistan but added that the international community should respect the group's "core values" on women.

Taliban Spokesperson Women Shariah Afghanistan
Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid, left, gestures as he speaks during the first press conference in Kabul on August 17, following the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan. Hoshang Hashimi/AFP
Schoolgirls Women Afghan Afghanistan Taliban Shariah Law
Schoolgirls attend class in Herat on August 17 following the Taliban stunning takeover of the country. Aref Karimi/AFP

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said that his "heart goes out to Afghan women and girls in the country today under the Taliban," but that the decision to withdraw troops from the ground "wasn't a choice just between saving those women and girls and not saving those women and girls."

Sullivan said the White House would "attempt to use every measure of tool and influence" in order "to alleviate the burden that those women and girls will face in the days ahead."

Jake Sullivan Biden Administration White House Afghanistan
White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan calls on reporters during a press conference in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on August 17 in Washington, D.C. Anna Moneymaker/Getty

On Wednesday, the United Arab Emirates' Foreign Ministry welcomed Ashraf Ghani and his family into the country "on humanitarian grounds." Ghani had fled the country on Sunday, opening a clear path for the Taliban to enter the presidential palace and defeat Afghan security forces.

In a video statement from the UAE, Ghani said his "overall objective" for Afghanistan was "to avoid bloodshed and to ensure peace, stability and development."

Ashraf Ghani Afghan President UAE
Former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani speaks in a video statement released on Wednesday from the United Arab Emirates. Ashraf Ghani

In the U.S., Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin authorized the use of two military bases in Texas and Wisconsin to house Special Immigrant Visa applicants and other at-risk individuals in response to the Afghan crisis.

Members of Congress also made a bipartisan push on the Biden administration to ensure that U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan until everyone has been evacuated, even if that means staying past Biden's August 31 deadline.

In an interview with ABC News, the president said the deadline might have to be extended but the Pentagon has stated that doing so "would require additional conversations" with the Taliban.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin Pentagon Afghanistan
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin speaks to the press on August 18 at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Oliver Douliery/AFP
Afghanistan French Embassy Kabul Taliban Takeover
People sit near the French Embassy in Kabul on August 18, following the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan. Wakil Kohsar/AFP
Greece Afghan Woman Taliban Takeover Protest
An Afghan woman in Athens holds a Afghan flag during a protest over the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan on August 18. Angelos Tzortzinis/Getty

Reuters reported on Thursday that a total of 12 people have been killed in and around Hamid Karzai International Airport since the Taliban took over the capital.

Thursday also marked Afghanistan's Independence Day. The Taliban celebrated by declaring victory over the U.S. in the 20-year war and describing U.S., Soviet and British forces as "arrogant empires."

"Praise be to God, today we celebrate the anniversary of independence from the British occupation, while we—by the grace of God—and with thanks to the Jihadi resistance, have defeated another powerful and arrogant force [America] and forced it to withdraw from the pure land of Afghanistan," the Taliban said in a statement.

Crowds of Afghans defied the Taliban by marching through Kabul with the national flag of Afghanistan, which is black, red and green. The Taliban has sought to replace that flag with their own white and black flag.

Afghanistan Independence Day Taliban Kabul
Afghans hold their national flags as they celebrate the 102nd Independence Day of Afghanistan in Kabul on August 19, days after the Taliban's military takeover of the country. Wakil Kohsar/AFP
Taliban Fighter Afghanistan Kabul
A Taliban fighter climbs up on a vehicle along a makeshift tent where the Shiite Muslims distribute sherbet to people during the Ashura procession, which is held to mark the death of Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Mohammad, along a road in Kabul on August 19. Hoshang Hashimi/AFP
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Afghan armed men supporting the Afghan security forces against the Taliban stand with their weapons and Humvee vehicles at Parakh area in Bazarak, Panjshir province, on August 19. Ahmad Sahel Arman/AFP
Afghan US Military Plane Evacuation Kabul Afghanistan
Afghan people sit inside a U S military aircraft to leave Afghanistan, at the military airport in Kabul on August 19, after Taliban's military takeover of Afghanistan. Shakib Rahmani/AFP

On Friday, NATO's 30 foreign ministers called on the Taliban to allow those who wish to leave Afghanistan to do so and said they are working to make it easier for Afghans to reach and enter the international airport there.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg noted that the main challenge international forces were facing "is ensuring that people can reach and enter Kabul airport."

Footage also emerged of babies and children being lifted above crowds and over razor wire fences into the waiting arms of U.S. soldiers, showing how the disorganized situation at the airport has continued through the week.

In the afternoon, amid intense criticism of the evacuation efforts, Biden promised to bring home any American still trapped in Afghanistan. He said he would commit to airlifting Afghans who have aided U.S. troops during the war, but reiterated that Americans were his first priority.

Afghan people gather as they wait to board a U.S. military aircraft to leave the country, at a military airport in Kabul on August 20, days after Taliban's military takeover of Afghanistan.

Afghan Military Airport Kabul Afghanistan Taliban
Afghan people gather as they wait to board a U S military aircraft to leave the country, at a military airport in Kabul on August 20, days after Taliban's military takeover of Afghanistan. Wakil Kohsar/AFP
Afghanistan Afghan Kabul Airport Taliban
Afghans gather on a roadside near the military part of the airport in Kabul on August 20, hoping to flee from the country after the Taliban's military takeover of Afghanistan. Wakil Kohsar/AFP
Afghanistan Spain Evacuation Taliban
The captain of Afghanistan's women's wheelchair basketball team Nilofar Bayat, second from right, and her husband Ramish, right, disembark from the second Spanish evacuation airplane, carrying Afghan collaborators and their families, that landed at the Torrejon de Ardoz air base, 30 kilometers away from Madrid, on August 20. Mariscal/AFP
Afghanistan Migrant Poland Belarus Refugee Asylum
A member of a group of a migrants believed to be from Afghanistan stands as he tries to confirm their will to apply for international protection in Poland to Polish volunteer lawyers, in the presence of press members and Polish Parliament deputies, in the small village of Usnarz Gorny near Bialystok, northeastern Poland, located close to the border with Belarus, on August 20. Wojtek Radwanski/AFP

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