A Timeline of the Taliban's Lightning-Fast Takeover of Afghanistan

Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country on Monday, as the Taliban entered the capital city of Kabul, ending a swift military campaign in wake of the United States' withdrawal.

After a 20-year war following the Al-Qaeda-led attack on the World Trade Center, the Taliban will return to a level of power last seen during a period between 1996 and 2001 when it governed roughly three-quarters of the country under Sharia Law.

Here, Newsweek charts the Taliban's rise in power:

The Taliban were in control of Afghanistan after President Ashraf Ghani fled the country and conceded the insurgents had won the 20-year war on Monday. Pakistan's newspapers are pictured displaying front page news about Afghanistan, at a stall in Islamabad on Monday. Photo by AAMIR QURESHI/AFP via Getty Images

February 2020

Former President Donald Trump initiated talks to remove U.S. troops from the nation, joining other NATO powers in arranging terms of agreement with the Taliban for a withdrawal.

The administration set the deadline for May 1, 2021 and left the possibility the U.S. could return troops if the Taliban violated its agreement to not harbor terrorist groups.

From here, the U.S. began pulling-out troops over the next several months.

April 2021

President Joe Biden announces in mid-April he would support the previous administration's goal of withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, beginning the process on May 1 and intending to complete it by September 11.

May 2021

As the month commences, NATO starts pulling out its 9,600 service members with the U.S. being responsible for the 2,500 remaining troops.

The Taliban soon launches a major offensive campaign in the southern province of Helmand, following this attack with moves toward six other provinces, including southeastern Ghazni and southern Kandahar.

It soon picks up a major victory on May 11 with the capturing of the Nerkh district, positioned near Kabul.

June 2021

During the month of June, attacks rage in 26 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces.

On June 7, the Afghan government reported that over 150 troops were killed or injured during the past 24 hours of fighting. By June 22, the insurgent group extends its presence to the northern portion of the country.

July 2021

American and NATO troops pull out of Bagram, their largest and most important airbase, on July 2. Three days later, the Taliban announces its intent to present the Afghanistan government with a peace proposal around August.

By July 21, the Taliban now controls half of the country's districts, marked by the July 9 victory of Islam Qala near Iran and the July 14 capture of Spin Boldak near Pakistan.

On July 26, U.S. Marine General Kenneth McKenzie announced America is "prepared to continue this heightened level of support in the coming weeks if the Taliban continue their attacks." It supports the Afghanistan government by conducting airstrikes.

August 2021

August 6: The Taliban capture their first provincial capital, the city of Zaranj in southwestern Nimroz.

August 7: The capital city of Sheberghan in the northern Jawzjan province falls to Taliban rule.

August 8: Taliban fighters gain the strategic city of Kunduz in the north. On the same day, Taluqan, another northern capital, also falls to their rule.

August 9: Sheberghan, Sar-e-Pul, Taloqan, Aibak and Farah all fall to the Taliban. Reports said the cities are conquered with little resistance.

August 10: The Taliban takes Pul-e-Khumri, capital of Baghlan, a central province.

August 11: Faizabad, capital of the northeastern province of Badakhshan, is taken by insurgents.

August 12: Ghazni, a capital in the southeast near Kaubl falls, as does Herat, Afghanistan's third largest city.

August 13: The Taliban takes control of the cities of Kandahar, Lashkar Gah, Qala-e-Naw, Feruz Koh, Pul-e-Alam, Terenkot and Qalat.

August 14: Mazar-i-Sharif, Pul-e-Alam both fall to Taliban rule.

August 15: Jalalabad, capital of Nangarhar province, is taken by the Taliban, leaving just the capital city of Kabul. On this day, insurgents surround Kaubul as Ghani flees, announcing the Taliban has "won."

August 16: The U.S. begins transporting staff from the U.S. embassy to Kabul's military airbase. Thousands of Afghans rush to the airport, seeking passage out of the country as Taliban flags are draped across Kabul.

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