Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said on Saturday the remobilisation of the country’s armed forces was a “top priority”, as Taliban fighters inched closer to the capital after routing the country’s defences over the past week.
The Taliban pushed closer to Kabul, capturing a key city near Afghanistan’s capital as American troops flew in to help evacuate embassy personnel and other civilians.
“In the current situation, the remobilisation of our security and defence forces is our top priority, and serious steps are being taken in this regard,” he said in a televised speech.
He gave no hint he would resign or take responsibility for the current situation, but said “consultations” were taking place to try and end the war.
“As a historic mission, I will not let the imposed war on people cause more deaths,” he said, appearing sombre and sitting before an Afghan flag.
With the country’s second and third-largest cities having fallen into Taliban hands, Kabul has effectively become a besieged last stand for government forces who have offered little or no resistance elsewhere.
But Ghani praised the forces “that have defended the nation courageously and showed strong determination”.
With the country’s second- and third-largest cities having fallen into Taliban hands, Kabul has effectively become the besieged, last stand for government forces who have offered little or no resistance elsewhere.
Heaving fighting was also reported around Mazar-i-Sharif, an isolated holdout in the north where warlord and former vice president Abdul Rashid Dostum had gathered his virulently anti-Taliban militia.
In Kabul, US embassy staff were ordered to begin shredding and burning sensitive material, as the first American troops from a planned 3,000-strong re-deployment started arriving to secure the airport and oversee evacuations.
“Kabul is not right now in an imminent threat environment,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said on Friday, while acknowledging that Taliban fighters were “trying to isolate” the city.
The Taliban offensive has accelerated in recent days, with the capture of Herat in the north and, just hours later, the seizure of Kandahar — the group’s spiritual heartland in the south.
Pul-e-Alam, capital of Logar province, was the latest city to fall on Friday, putting the Taliban within striking distance of Kabul.–AFP