Biden defends Afghan withdrawal as ‘best decision’ for US: Live

Biden says an open-ended mission in Afghanistan had ‘no clear purpose’ and choice was between leaving or escalating.

US Army soldiers assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division patrol Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan [File: US Air Force/Senior Airman Taylor Crul/Handout via Reuters]

United States President Joe Biden, in a televised speech, said the US pullout in Afghanistan was the “best decision”, adding that the choice was either to withdraw from the country or escalate the conflict.

“I was not going to extend this forever war, and I was not extending a forever exit,” Biden said on Tuesday.

The Taliban declared Afghanistan a “free and sovereign” nation as it hailed the exit of US troops after 20 years of occupation, describing their departure as a “historic moment”.

Taliban fighters on Tuesday took charge of Kabul’s airport as the last US soldiers flew out of the country.

Speaking to reporters from Kabul airport, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said, “We do not have any doubt that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is a free and sovereign nation.”

Here are the latest updates:

US denies abandoning dogs at Kabul airport

The US defense department has denied reports that soldiers abandoned some of their dogs at Kabul airport during Washington’s final pullout from Afghanistan.

“To correct erroneous reports, the US military did not leave any dogs in cages at Hamid Karzai International Airport, including the reported military working dogs,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby posted on social media.

He clarified that photos circulating online showed dogs in an animal shelter and not those being used by the military.

The animal rights group PETA earlier quoted “inside sources” as saying that 60 bomb-sniffing dogs and 60 other “working dogs” were left behind “suffering in the heat without adequate access to food or water.”

Biden’s speech: The full transcript

President Joe Biden mounted a defiant defence of his Afghanistan policies on Tuesday, stressing that the withdrawal was the “right decision”.

“I was not going to extend this forever war, and I was not extending a forever exit,” Biden said.

Read the speech here.

Joe Biden delivers remarks on Afghanistan during a speech at the White House, August 31 [Carlos Barria/Reuters]

Biden signs law to aid Americans returning from Afghanistan

President Joe Biden signed into law on Tuesday a bill that would provide up to $10 million in assistance for US citizens who have been evacuated from Afghanistan for the next two years.

The Senate had passed the legislation unanimously earlier in the day. The House of Representatives approved it last week.

Senator Ben Cardin said the bill increases funds for returning Americans to help them meet their immediate needs, including housing.

“They’ve been uprooted, they were living in Afghanistan, so [it is] to take care of their necessities on a short-term basis,” CNN quoted Cardin as saying.

US progressive leaders praise Biden for withdrawal

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, praised President Joe Biden for completing the withdrawal in Afghanistan, saying that he made one of “most compelling cases against war” in his speech on Tuesday.

“A courageous, thoughtful, comprehensive and necessary articulation,” Jayapal wrote on Twitter, describing Biden’s address.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, a left-wing legislator, echoed Jayapal’s comment. “President Biden is right that this decision is not just about Afghanistan. It’s about ending an era of major military operations to remake other countries,” Warren said.

Top Republican: Biden is ‘abandoning Americans’ in Afghanistan

Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader in the House of Representatives, denounced Joe Biden after the president delivered a speech in defence of his Afghanistan policies.

McCarthy accused Biden of “abandoning Americans in a terrorist war zone”, rebuking the president’s refusal to take questions from journalists following his address.

Qatar warns isolating Taliban could lead to more instability

Qatar’s foreign minister has warned that isolating the Taliban could lead to further instability and urged countries to engage with the movement to address security and socioeconomic concerns in Afghanistan.

“If we are starting to put conditions and stopping this engagement, we are going to leave a vacuum, and the question is, who is going to fill this vacuum?,” Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said in Doha on Tuesday, alongside his German counterpart, Heiko Maas.

The US-allied Gulf Arab state has emerged as a key interlocutor to the Taliban, having hosted the group’s political office since 2013.

No country has recognised the Taliban as the government of Afghanistan after their capture of Kabul on August 15. Many Western states have urged the group to form an inclusive government and to respect human rights.

Read more here.

White House says US has ‘enormous leverage’ over the Taliban

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the US has “enormous leverage” over the Taliban, including access to the global marketplace.

Psaki said Washington will be “watching closely” the Taliban’s actions as it seeks to get the remaining Americans and allies out of Afghanistan following the US military withdrawal.

US no longer had ‘clear purpose’ in Afghanistan, Biden says

The US was without a clear aim as it entered the 20th year of its war in Afghanistan, President Joe Biden said following the withdrawal of American forces from the war-torn country.

“We no longer had a clear purpose in an open-ended mission in Afghanistan,” Biden said Tuesday during remarks at the White House.

“After 20 years of war in Afghanistan, I refused to send another generation of America’s sons and daughters to fight a war that should have ended long ago.”

Biden warns Afghanistan’s ISKP: ‘We are not done with you’

US President Joe Biden warned the Islamic State in Khorasan Province, ISKP (ISIS-K), the group which killed more than 175 people including 13 US troops in a suicide bombing at Kabul airport, that they face more retribution from Washington.

“We will maintain the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan and other countries,” Biden said.

“And to ISIS-K: We are not done with you yet,” he said.

Biden defends decision against extending withdrawal deadline

President Joe Biden once more defended his decision to withdraw the US military from Afghanistan, including the call against extending the evacuation operation.

Speaking from the White House, Biden stressed that keeping US troops in control of the airport in Kabul beyond the August 31 withdrawal deadline would have exposed them to heightened security risks.

The US president cited his predecessor Donald Trump’s deal with the Taliban that ensured the withdrawal.

“Let me be clear, leaving August 31 is not due to an arbitrary deadline. It was designed to save American lives,” he said.

People gather at the entrance gate of Hamid Karzai International Airport a day after US troops’ withdrawal, in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 31, 2021 [Reuters]

‘Was not going to extend this forever war’: Biden

US President Joe Biden said he was not going to extend the “forever war” in Afghanistan nor a “forever exit”.

“That was the choice: between leaving or escalating. I was not going to extend this forever war, and I was not extending a forever exit,” Biden said.

“The decision to the military airlift operations at Kabul airport was based on the unanimous recommendation of my civilian and military advisors,” he added.

100 to 200 US citizens remain in Afghanistan: Biden

President Joe Biden said between 100 and 200 American citizens wishing to leave Afghanistan remain in the country, and vowed to help them get them out.

Biden pledged to hold the Taliban accountable to its promise to allow a safe passage out of Afghanistan. “For those remaining Americans, there is no deadline,” Biden said. “We remain committed to get them out if they want to come out.”

Evacuations from Afghanistan an ‘extraordinary success’: Biden

President Joe Biden praised what he called the “extraordinary success” of the evacuation operation in Kabul, saying the US airlifted 120,000 people from Afghanistan.

“We completed one of the biggest airlifts in history … That number is more than double what most experts thought were possible. No nation, no nation has ever done anything like it in all history,” Biden said during a speech at the White House.

With US troops gone, full focus on Taliban: AJ correspondent

Al Jazeera’s correspondent Rob McBride reporting from Kabul said with foreign troops gone, there was now more scrutiny on the Taliban and their plans for the country.

“I think this first full day without the US military or any other country’s military to act as a distraction here for so many years, has allowed the full scrutiny to be focused, fairly and squarely right on the Taliban. Just what does the Taliban stand for, what do they do from here, how are they going to run this country,” he added.

“We heard the same messages of assurance for the international community, for example, especially to countries that might be the donor countries or the countries that are looking to invest in, in Afghanistan because this is a country gotta remember which is effectively broke,” McBride added.

Foreign expertise needed to re-build airport: Aviation expert

An aviation consultant and pilot has told Al Jazeera that making Kabul airport operational again will require foreign expertise.

“There’s a lot more to securing the airport than just securing the perimeters, before the airport can be used effectively to transport passengers,” Keith Mackey said.

“A system of security is going to have to be developed as any other airport, to screen passengers and keep people who might be dangerous off airplanes.”

Moreover, Mackey said since the air traffic control equipment had been allegedly damaged at the airport, people who are qualified to repair or run it needed to be hired from abroad like Turkey – since they were “probably not resident amongst the Taliban”.

‘No way around’ talking with Taliban, German FM says

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said he saw “no way around” talking with the Taliban after their takeover of Afghanistan.

“I personally believe there is absolutely no way around having talks with the Taliban,” he said during a press conference after meeting with his Qatari counterpart, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, in Doha, Qatar.

Taliban fighters rally to celebrate the withdrawal of US forces in Kandahar, Afghanistan, 31 August 2021 [EPA]

Biden to give live address on Afghanistan withdrawal

United States President Joe Biden is slated to make his televised speech from the White House at 2:45 pm EDT.

He has said repeatedly he does not regret his decision to leave.

Qatar ready to give ‘maximum support’ for stability in Afghanistan: foreign minister

Qatar Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said the Gulf nation was ready to provide its “maximum support” for reaching stability in Afghanistan in a meeting with his German counterpart Heiko Maas.

“I expressed that Qatar is fully prepared to provide maximum support to maintain stability in Afghan also provide the positive prospects for the protection and preservation of the Afghan people’s rights,” Al Thani said.

The Qatari foreign minister said he discussed with Maas “the means to combat terrorism” considering that Afghanistan was at a “turning point in its history”.

“We reiterated that Taliban should demonstrate full cooperation and to honour all the obligations placed on its shoulders”.

‘A few dozen’ French still in Afghanistan: Defence ministry

France says “a few dozen” French nationals remain in Afghanistan, including some who wanted to be evacuated but could not as the last flight left Kabul.

Defence Ministry spokesman Herve Grandjean said in a news conference Tuesday that “all efforts are being done” to allow those left behind to get “a safe and orderly evacuation”.

“That is the goal of the talks underway within the United Nations framework with the Taliban power.”

In addition, France was not able to evacuate a “few dozen” former Afghan employees of the French army who asked for the protection of the country, he said.

Taliban ‘angry’ over US destruction of military hardware at airport

The Taliban invited Al Jazeera’s Charlotte Bellis to visit Kabul international airport following the final withdrawal of US forces. Bellis said the Taliban were upset by the US forces’ destruction of planes, helicopters, and other equipment at the military side of the airport, as they considered the hardware to be an Afghan “national asset”.

“Last night their mood was one of joy, celebration, they were shooting in the sky, there were fireworks – they were very happy that the Americans had left,” she said.

“The mood here today is quite different – they are disappointed, they are angry, they say they feel betrayed because all of this equipment is broken beyond repair.”

The Taliban have said that they hope to reopen the passenger side of the airport to commercial flights in the coming days, which would allow people to leave the country; Al Jazeera understands that Turkey and Qatar are assisting with that work.

“So while the evacuation efforts have finished because the foreign forces have all left, the Taliban say that they are going to stand by their word – which is to allow people to fly out commercially when they get everything operational,” Bellis said.

War-weary Afghans divided on Taliban rule as US forces depart

In the early hours of Tuesday, hails of gunfire filled the skies above cities across Afghanistan as the Taliban celebrated the final withdrawal of foreign forces after a 20-year US-led occupation of the country.

Just after midnight local time, US Central Command Commander, General Kenneth McKenzie, declared, “Every single US service member is now out of Afghanistan.”

With those 10 words, McKenzie brought an official end to Washington’s longest-ever foreign incursion. As the final US military plane departed Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport, the Taliban looked on in triumph.

Read more here.

On August 31, 2021, the Taliban officially took control of the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul [Mohammad Aref Karimi/Al Jazeera] (Restricted Use)

After US withdrawal, few answers for Afghans left behind

The US withdrawal from Afghanistan has dashed hopes of an immediate evacuation for Afghans who had worked for the US or NATO-member governments during their 20-year engagement in the country.

For Abdul Matin Amiri, like thousands of other Afghans, the end of the chaotic and rushed evacuations by the US and other foreign governments proved the latest setback in a five-year attempt to leave his homeland and find safety abroad. Those attempts began in 2016 when he first applied for a Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) available for Afghans who worked for the US government.

Read more here.

UK denies pushing to leave Kabul airport gate open before blast

The United Kingdom coordinated closely with the United States and did not push to keep a gate open at Kabul airport where a suicide bomber killed 13 US troops and an estimated 170 Afghan civilians, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said.

“We got our civilian staff out of the processing centre by Abbey Gate, but it’s just not true to suggest that, other than securing our civilian staff inside the airport, that we were pushing to leave the gate open,” Raab told Sky News on Tuesday.

Read more here.

A Taliban fighter guards a street leading to the Abbey Gate at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan [Reuters]

Taliban says formation of new Afghan gov’t in its final stages

The formation of Afghanistan’s new government is in its final stages, the Taliban has said, as the US withdrew the last of its forces from the country.

“The government will take shape in the following few days,” Anas Haqqani, a senior Taliban leader, told Al Jazeera.

He added that it was still too early to say who will be part of the new cabinet.

Read more here.

Afghan teenager held on his way to Kashmir

The police in Indian-administered Kashmir have detained a 17-year-old Afghan national in the southern district of Kathua who was on his way to Kashmir without valid travel documents.

The senior superintendent of police Kathua district, R C Kotwal, told reporters the teenager was apprehended while bus passengers were boarded off at a mandatory COVID-19 testing point at Lakhanpur, an entry point to Indian-administered Kashmir, near the northern state of Punjab, in the Jammu region.

“Today morning, a  17-year-old boy was apprehended at the Lakhanpur where the police checkpoint is round the clock. After preliminary questioning we came to know he is an Afghan national from Kabul” the official said, adding that “the boy claimed that his brother who serves in the Afghan army is under treatment at RR hospital in Delhi”.

“He doesn’t have any travel documents with him and he says they are with the Afghan embassy in Delhi which we are verifying,” the official said.

The teenager was travelling to Kashmir via an interstate bus coming from Delhi.

EU seeks united front on handling Afghan refugees

EU member states are looking to find consensus on how to help Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries take in refugees fleeing the Taliban and prevent an influx of migrants comparable to 2015.

“We need to avoid a humanitarian crisis, we need to avoid a migratory crisis, and we need to avoid security threats,” EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson said ahead of a meeting of the EU’s 27 interior ministers in Brussels.

“But then we need to act now and not wait until we have big flows of people at our external borders or until we have terrorist organisations being stronger,” she added.

At the meeting, the ministers are expected to approve a declaration that includes support for countries in the region to take in refugees from Afghanistan, which has been in Taliban hands since mid-August.

Taliban held three-day meeting in Kandahar: spokesman

The Taliban held a three-day consultative meeting of its leadership council from Saturday to Monday, the group’s spokesperson posted on social media.

“During the three-day meeting, the current political, security and social issues of the country were discussed in detail,” Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted.

The meeting was held in Kandahar province with the supreme leader of the Taliban Haibatullah Akhunzada presiding over it, Mujahid added.

Canada to take in 5,000 Afghan refugees evacuated by the US: minister

Canada said it would take in and resettle some 5,000 Afghan refugees who had been evacuated by the United States after the withdrawal of the last American troops after almost two decades of war.

“We’re pulling out all the stops to help as many Afghans as possible who want to make their home in Canada,” said Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino. “Over the weekend, Canada and its allies received assurances from the Taliban that Afghan citizens with travel authorization from other countries would be safely allowed to leave Afghanistan.”

NATO chief vows will not ‘forget’ Afghans left behind

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday that Kabul airport must be kept open and promised not to forget Afghans left behind when US and allied forces left.

“It’s essential to keep the airport open, both to enable humanitarian aid to the Afghan people and also to make sure that we can continue to get people out – those who wished to, but were not able to be part of the military evacuation,” he told the AFP news agency in an interview.

“We will not forget them.”

Between Us: Afghanistan’s 20 Years of War

After 20 years of war, US troops have officially left Afghanistan and the Taliban has retaken power. Many are wondering: What’s next?.

“The truth is, nobody knows,” says Ali Latifi, Al Jazeera’s Afghanistan online correspondent.

“When you leave your house, you don’t know if you’ll come back home alive. That’s the legacy of this war.”

In the days leading up to foreign troops pulling out of Afghanistan, Ali takes us through the legacy of the US-led invasion and what Afghans have really been experiencing.

Taliban promises to spare no effort for national unity

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid held a news conference in Kabul, saying, “I pledge before you that we will spare no effort to restore our national unity and to regain our social harmony, steering away from any form of hypocrisy or those who are trying to drive a wedge among our people.”

“On the economic front, since we regained our political independence, we are similarly in a dire need to restore our economy and economic independence.”

China: Afghanistan has ‘turned new page’ after US withdrawal

China says the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan after a 20-year conflict signalled the country has “turned a new page”, after criticising Washington’s chaotic exit.

“Afghanistan has been able to free itself of foreign military occupation,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a regular briefing. “The Afghan people have ushered in a new beginning for national peace and reconstruction, and Afghanistan has turned a new page.”

India’s envoy in Qatar meets Taliban leader: Indian Express

Indian Envoy in Qatar Deepak Mittal has met Taliban leader Sher Mohammed Abbas Stanekzai in Doha, according to Indian Express news outlet citing India’s foreign ministry statement.

“The meeting took place at the Embassy of India, Doha, on the request of the Taliban side,” the ministry said. “Discussions focused on safety, security and early return of Indian nationals stranded in Afghanistan. The travel of Afghan nationals, especially minorities, who wish to visit to India also came up.”

“Ambassador Mittal raised India’s concern that Afghanistan’s soil should not be used for anti-Indian activities and terrorism in any manner,” the statement said. “The Taliban Representative assured the Ambassador that these issues would be positively addressed.”

Transcript: US completes Afghanistan withdrawal

General Frank McKenzie put the nearly 20 years of war in Afghanistan into numbers at a Pentagon news briefing.

Here is a complete transcript of his address.

General Kenneth McKenzie
General Kenneth McKenzie announcing the end of the US mission in Afghanistan [Pentagon]

Panjshir fighters claim killing at least seven Taliban members

Taliban forces clashed with resistance fighters in the Panjshir valley north of the Afghan capital Kabul on Monday night, with at least seven killed, two members of the main anti-Taliban opposition group said on Tuesday.

Fahim Dashti, a spokesman for the National Resistance Forces, a group loyal to local leader Ahmad Massoud, said the fighting occurred on the western entrance to the valley where the Taliban attacked NRF positions.

He said the attack, which may have been a probe to test the valley’s defences, was repulsed with eight Taliban killed and a similar number wounded, while two members of the NRF forces were wounded.

“Last night, the Taliban attacked Panjshir, but were defeated with 7 dead and several wounded,” Bismillah Mohammadi, a member of the resistance movement who served as a minister under exiled President Ashraf Ghani, said in a tweet. “They retreated with heavy casualties.”

The report could not be immediately verified independently by Al Jazeera.

Afghan Paralympian beats the odds to compete in Tokyo

After a dramatic evacuation from Kabul and a secret operation to fly him to Tokyo, Afghan Paralympian Hossain Rasouli beat the odds on Tuesday to compete in the long jump.

It was not the event he had been expecting to participate in, after qualifying for the 100m T47, but then just about everything in his world was turned upside down with the Taliban’s capture of his homeland.

Read more here.

The Taliban now controls Kabul airport. How will it run it?

With the Taliban in control of Kabul’s airport after the United States completed its withdrawal, the focus will now shift from the chaotic Western evacuation operation of the past two weeks to the group’s plans for the transport hub.

The airport’s symbolism was underlined on Tuesday when the Taliban’s top spokesman stood on its runway and declared victory over the US. But what happens next remains unclear.

Read more here.

Taliban forces secure the Hamid Karzai International Airport [Stringer/EPA]

What is left of the US (and its experts) in the Taliban era?

Why is it that a superpower so rich in experts, scholars, pundits and policymakers keeps messing up in the Greater Middle East?

Read more here.

In Pictures: Triumphant Taliban parades at Kabul airport

Hours after the last foreign forces withdrew from Afghanistan, Taliban leaders walked victoriously through the Kabul airport, flanked by guards dressed in special forces combat kit inspecting destroyed US military equipment.

See the photos here.

Taliban walk in front of a military aeroplane [Stringer/Reuters]

Uzbekistan says it will only allow air transit of Afghans to Germany

Uzbekistan will help people fleeing from Taliban rule in neighbouring Afghanistan to transit on to Germany but such help will only be limited to those flying in for a short time, the government says.

However, the Uzbek foreign ministry said in a statement Uzbekistan’s land border with Afghanistan remains closed and the assistance will be limited to allowing the air transit of people who will only stay in the country for short periods of time.

The Tashkent government said all attempts to cross the land border would be stopped.

Afghan refugee in Australia pleads to return and rescue family

An Afghan refugee who has been held in Australian immigration detention for more than eight years is pleading for his release in a bid to return to Taliban-controlled Afghanistan and rescue his family following the withdrawal of US troops from the war-torn country.

Read more here.

Japan to relocate its Kabul embassy to Qatar

Japan’s top diplomat says his country has temporarily moved its embassy from Afghanistan to Turkey but now plans to relocate it to Qatar, where the Taliban have an office.

Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told reporters that his talks with leaders in the region suggest that Doha, the capital of Qatar, will carry growing political importance.

“I believe various forms of communication will take place,” Motegi said.

Isolating the Taliban could pose a threat to the whole region: Expert

Sultan Barakat, the director of the centre for conflict and humanitarian studies at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies, has told Al Jazeera that “the coming few days and months will test to the limit the strength of international diplomacy.”

“Yesterday, we saw the United Nations resolution and the discussion that happened. Overall, that was in the right direction, but we still have not learned the importance of language and communication with the Taliban,” he said.

“[They] are a very proud people who do not take well to either threats or conditions. There was a missed opportunity yesterday to set up those conditions but maybe in relation to triggers, specific targets, timeline, stepping stones that the Taliban should be very clear about,” he said.

Barakat also said that “the real issue that is going to face the Taliban now is the issue of financial flow.”

“Isolating them entirely could only lead to a worse situation and I can think of many threats to the region, and maybe to the world, that could come as a result of isolating them entirely. For example, in order to raise funds, they could sell the weapons that they inherited from the United States and those weapons could then spread across the region,” he said.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid speaks to Badri 313 military unit at Kabul’s airport [Taliban/Handout via Reuters]

Taliban to decide on Kabul airport charter flights: Germany

Germany will wait for the Taliban to install a new government to see if the group will honour their pledge to allow civilians to leave Afghanistan on flights from Kabul airport, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas says.

“The Taliban have promised, but in the coming days and weeks, we will find out whether we can count on that,” Maas said during a news conference in Islamabad with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

“The Taliban want to install a new government, and this will give us an indication whether our request that it be inclusive is met,” he added

International community must remain engaged: Pakistan FM

Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Pakistan’s foreign minister, says at a joint news conference with his German counterpart, Heiko Maas, held in Islamabad:

“We will give you a very good holistic view of what the challenges are, what the concerns are, the opportunities are and what needs to be done in the days ahead, how the international community should act, what are the advantages of remaining engaged, what would be the consequences of abandonment, what did we learn from the past.”

“The international community must remain engaged, humanitarian assistance must flow to not let the economic collapse in Afghanistan take place. Vacuum is in nobody’s interest, instability is in nobody’s interest, exodus of refugees will not, cannot be stopped within the region.”

UK nationals still in Afghanistan in ‘low hundreds’: Raab

The number of British nationals still in Afghanistan is in the low hundreds, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says.

“I know that the number of UK nationals, the particular responsibility of the Foreign Office, is now down at a very low level … low hundreds given that we taken in total 5,000 out,” Raab told Sky News.

Taliban in talks with Qatar, Turkey about Kabul airport: France

The Taliban is in talks with Qatar and Turkey about the management of Kabul airport and should secure the airport as soon as possible so that people who want to leave Afghanistan can do so using commercial flights, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian says.

“The Security Council resolution about securing the airport must be implemented. There are talks under way with the Qataris and Turks about management of the airport. We must demand that access to the airport is safe,” Le Drian said on France 2 television.

Read more here.

US embassy to assist citizens in Afghanistan from Qatar

The US embassy in Kabul suspended operations on Tuesday, August 31, its website said.

“While the US government has withdrawn its personnel from Kabul, we will continue to assist US citizens and their families in Afghanistan from Doha, Qatar,” the website said.

Taliban fighters stand guard inside the Hamid Karzai International Airport [Kathy Gannon/AP]

Prominent Afghan politician Fawzia Koofi lands in Qatar

Fawzia Koofi, an Afghan politician and women’s rights activist, has arrived in Qatar from Afghanistan after being put under house arrest by the Taliban.

Lolwah Rashid Mohammed al-Khater, Qatari assistant foreign minister, shared the news on Twitter, writing that Koofi had landed in Qatar and would soon be reunited with her two daughters.

Taliban warns elite Badri unit to ‘be very cautious’

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid has addressed members of the group’s elite Badri unit in a livestream from Kabul airport.

“I hope you are very cautious in dealing with the nation,” he said. “Our nation has suffered war and invasion and the people do not have more tolerance.” At the end of his remarks, the Badri fighters shouted: “God is the greatest!”

Later, speaking to Al Jazeera Arabic on the tarmac, Mujahid rejected having a caretaker government and insisted, “There will be security in Kabul and people should not be concerned,” he said.

Read more here.

A video grab taken from Afghan TV RTA shows propaganda images of Taliban’s Badri 313 Special Forces patrolling streets in an unidentified location in Afghanistan [RTA TV/AFP]

Taliban proclaim ‘full independence’ after US troops leave

Taliban leaders walked victoriously through the airport, flanked by guards dressed in special forces combat kit inspecting destroyed US helicopters.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid led a group of officials onto the runway, his usual stoic expression replaced by a broad grin.

The Taliban’s so-called “Badri 313” special forces unit posed for pictures, brandishing US rifles and flying the group’s white flag.

Mujahid said that “American soldiers left the Kabul airport, and our nation got its full independence.”

Read more here.

Taliban spokesman to hold news conference at Kabul airport

The spokesman of the Taliban government, Zabihullah Mujahid, and his troops are reportedly entering Kabul airport, where he is expected to hold a news conference.

Images on social media show the group entering the airport on Tuesday morning – they are expected to make important announcements.

Beijing watching Afghanistan ‘very closely’ after US withdrawal

With its growing investment in Afghanistan, its “extensive investments” in Pakistan, and its geopolitical interests at stake, China is “watching very closely” developments in the region following the withdrawal of US troops from Kabul.

Al Jazeera’s Katrina Yu, reporting from Beijing, said China “is maintaining an approach of non-interference” while still monitoring the situation very closely.

Yu said Beijing wants to give the Taliban “space to prove itself”, while urging Washington to play a role in “cleaning up the mess” following the withdrawal.

‘Calm’ in Kabul after US troops withdraw

Kabul residents woke up early on Tuesday under full control of the Taliban after the complete withdrawal of US troops.

Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford, reporting from Kabul, said the “atmosphere is calm” after a late night of celebration.

“For the Taliban, this is a historic victory … The Taliban have always spoken about their fight in Afghanistan against foreign powers as one of a rite to national sovereignty,” he said.

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Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies