Afghan government officials told the press on Sunday that Taliban forces have entered the capital Kabul from all sides as the militant group said in a statement that they are in talks with the administration for a "peaceful surrender" of the capital city.
The officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity as they weren't authorized to release the information, said there hadn't been any fighting yet.
The Taliban fighters were in the districts of Kalakan, Qarabagh and Paghman.
The insurgents did not immediately acknowledge their presence in the capital. However, government offices suddenly began sending workers home early Sunday as military helicopters buzzed overhead.
Earlier on the same day, the group seized the last major city outside of Kabul held by the country's central government, cutting off the capital to the east as helicopters began landing at the U.S. Embassy there.
The collapse of Jalalabad, near a major border crossing with Pakistan, leaves Afghanistan's central government in control of just Kabul and five other provincial capitals out of the country's 34. In a nationwide offensive that has taken just over a week, the Taliban has defeated, co-opted or sent Afghan security forces fleeing from wide swathes of the country, even with some air support by the U.S. military.
The rapid shuttle-run flights near the embassy began a few hours later as diplomatic armored SUVs could be seen leaving the area around the post. The U.S. State Department did not immediately respond to questions about the movements. However, wisps of smoke could be seen near the embassy's roof as diplomats urgently destroyed sensitive documents, according to two American military officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the situation.
The Czech Republic also approved a plan to begin withdrawing their Afghan staff from their embassy after earlier taking their diplomats to Kabul International Airport.
President Ashraf Ghani, who spoke to the nation Saturday for the first time since the offensive began, appears increasingly isolated as well. Warlords he negotiated with just days earlier have surrendered to the Taliban or fled, leaving Ghani without a military option.
Thousands of civilians now live in parks and open spaces in Kabul itself, fearing the future. While Kabul appeared calm Sunday, some ATMs stopped distributing cash as hundreds gathered in front of private banks, trying to withdraw their life savings.
President Joe Biden announced earlier that U.S. troops would end their 20-year military intervention in the country by the end of August. NATO has already quietly wrapped up its mission in the country.
The peace talks that started between the warring sides in Qatar last year made little progress and have now stalled as both sides speak of war.
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