- Sputnik International, 1920
Get the latest news from around the world, live coverage, off-beat stories, features and analysis.
A general view shows Kabul city during a rainy day in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Nov. 9, 2015. - Sputnik International

Live Updates: Taliban Leader Akhunzada to Head Afghan Gov't, Reports Suggest, Citing Movement

The leader of the resistance in the Afghan province of Panjshir, Ahmad Massoud earlier told the media he would give up his struggle if the Taliban* forms an inclusive government and guarantees equal rights for all Afghans.
US President Joe Biden addressed the nation on 31 August and said the American evacuation mission in Afghanistan was an "extraordinary success" the day after the last US warplane left the Kabul International Airport. Biden noted that Washington still has leverage to ensure that the Taliban movement meets its commitments to safe passage for those wishing to leave Afghanistan. The decision to withdraw American forces from Afghanistan was about ending the era of major nation-building operations, the American president concluded. 
On the same day, US Department of State spokesperson Ned Price said in a press briefing that Washington has been in contact with Americans who are still on the ground in Afghanistan and provided them with information on how to continue to stay in touch after the US troop withdrawal. 
The Taliban is also expected to announce the formation of a new Afghan government on 3 September, but its composition remains uncertain as of now. 
*The Taliban is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia and many other nations. 
Table of contents
New firstOld first
03:00 GMT 02.09.2021

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - South Africa refused to temporarily accommodate refugees from Afghanistan, who then planned to go to a third country, the country's Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) said in a statement.

"The South African Government notes the overtures made to the country to consider receiving a number of Afghanistan refugees who have sought refuge in Pakistan. The request is that they be accommodated in South Africa en-route to their final destinations. The South African Government is unfortunately not in a position to accommodate such a request," the statement said.

"South Africa is already home to a substantial number of refugees and is seized with addressing their needs. Most of them already benefit from the Social Assistance and free medical health programmes offered by our country. In terms of international law, the well-being of the refugees is best served by remaining in the first country arrival – Pakistan – pending their final destinations," it said.

23:48 GMT 01.09.2021

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Spokesman for the Taliban movement (recognized as terrorist and banned in Russia) Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai met with Turkish Ambassador to Qatar Mustafa Goksu, spokesman for the Qatari Taliban political office Mohammad Naeem Wardak said on Twitter.

The sides discussed the current and potential situation in Afghanistan.

The Turkish ambassador said the country will continue to provide assistance to the Afghan people. The Taliban delegation, in turn, expressed hope for building good relations with Turkey.

21:09 GMT 01.09.2021
Ahmad Massoud, son of the slain hero of the anti-Soviet resistance Ahmad Shah Massoud, speaks to his supporters in Bazarak, Panjshir province Afghanistan September 5, 2019. Picture taken September 5, 2019. - Sputnik International, 1920
Resistance Forces in Afghanistan's Panjshir Say Will Continue Fighting Taliban
20:39 GMT 01.09.2021

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The US government is working to ensure the security of air and land routes before it can proceed with evacuation of the remaining Americans out of Afghanistan, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland said on Wednesday.

"The first thing we have to do [before proceeding with evacuation of the remaining Americans] is ensure that we can get air routes and land routes secured and that's what we are working on," Nuland said during a press briefing.

Following the United States' withdrawal out of Afghanistan on August 31, the State Department and the White House confirmed that between some 200 US citizens still remain in the country.

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden said his administration is committed to evacuate all US citizens who will be willing to leave Afghanistan no matter when they decide to do so.

US media reported that about 20,000 Afghans who applied for the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) remained in Afghanistan when the Taliban (banned in Russia) seized Kabul.

20:08 GMT 01.09.2021

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The Taliban (a terrorist group, banned in Russia) have not yet reached an agreement with Qatar on the restoration of the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Mohammad Naeem, a spokesman for the Taliban's political office, told Sputnik.

On Wednesday, the Islamist movement said that it needed technical support to operate the airport, but will keep charge of all security aspects. However, Qatar presses the Taliban to allow foreign security presence at the Kabul airport so that commercial flights can be safely resumed.

"We want to improve the situation so that the airport will resume its normal operation. Before that, Turkey offered its help in this issue – both logistic and technical. We also contacted Qatar on this issue. However, we have not come to a final decision," Naeem said.

The Taliban desire to resolve the issue that is a "big problem for citizens and the international community as well," the spokesman added.

Earlier on Wednesday, a source from the Taliban told Sputnik that technical experts from Qatar arrived in Kabul to discuss the possible restoration of the airport damaged after the withdrawal of the foreign troops.

19:55 GMT 01.09.2021

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Former US Acting Ambassador to Afghanistan Ross Wilson, who was evacuated earlier this week from the country, tested positive for COVID-19, media reported on Wednesday.

Wilson currently has very mild symptoms, similar to the common cold, Politico reported, citing three people familiar with the matter.

The diplomat, who spent the last couple of weeks in Kabul helping to evacuate US citizens and vulnerable Afghans, left the country on Monday on the last C-17 plane along with US Army Major General Chris Donahue.

In June, the US Embassy in Kabul saw a major COVID-19 outbreak with more than 150 infections among its staff and at least one death.

19:17 GMT 01.09.2021

UNITED NATIONS (Sputnik) - The President of the UN Security Council for September, Irish Ambassador to the United Nations, Geraldine Byrne Nason, said on Wednesday it was too early to discuss the possibility of deploying UN peacekeepers into Afghanistan.

“I think it's premature to talk right now about peacekeeping operations,” Byrne Nason said when asked whether the Security Council is discussing sending a mission in Afghanistan.

18:51 GMT 01.09.2021

The EU mission in Afghanistan evacuated 520 members and Afghan support staff, including family members, from Kabul, a senior official at the European External Action Service said Wednesday.

Gunnar Wiegand, the EEAS managing director for Asia and the Pacific, told the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee meeting on Afghanistan that the mission would continue its work in Brussels. They will return to Afghanistan when the situation permits.

The EU expects the Taliban (banned in Russia) to keep their promise and reopen Kabul airport, so that evacuations could continue, Wiegand said. Several European countries still have to evacuate their nationals and Afghans at risk, he admitted.

17:36 GMT 01.09.2021

 It is possible that the US Defense Department will work with the Taliban to combat the terrorist threat from the Islamic State-Khorasan (both banned in Russia), Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said on Wednesday.

"It’s possible," Milley said during a press conference in response to a question about whether there is any possibility of coordination with the Taliban against the Islamic State-Khorasan terror group.

17:36 GMT 01.09.2021

Pakistan is concerned that Afghanistan since the fall of Kabul to the Taliban (banned in Russia) may become a source of cross-border terrorism, including against the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, Sehar Kamran, a former senator and presently a member of Pakistan's Senate Forum for Policy Research, told Sputnik.

"It needs to be seen if the Taliban ... [are] able to stop groups like Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan [also known as the Pakistani Taliban] and the anti-China East Turkistan Islamic Movement [banned in Russia], which supported ... them during the Afghan war. It is important that transnational terrorist groups are not allowed to operate from the Afghan soil to carry out terror attacks inside Pakistan. Pakistan has a lot at stake, especially with regards to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor," Kamran said.

Beijing has already expressed its concerns about the safety of its investments in the country following the recent terrorist attacks against the Chinese nationals working on CPEC projects, the official recalled, noting that Pakistan is already struggling to become economically stable and cannot afford any instability.

"Pakistan's socioeconomic sphere could not also bear the burden of any more Afghan refugees as the country currently hosts 3.5 million refugees," Kamran added.

When asked about other threats that may emanate from Taliban-ruled Afghanistan to Pakistan, Kamran listed the use of Afghan territory against Pakistan by the TTP and fears that "warlordism could return in Afghanistan with militias wreaking havoc in the country, which, in turn, could cause instability in Pakistan," especially in the Afghan-Pakistani border areas.

Another serious concern among policy-making circles in Pakistan relates to a possible resurgence in local terrorist groups inspired by the Taliban, the ex-senator said, adding they may feel emboldened to resume terrorist activities inside the country.

Since the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan on August 15, the international community has raised concerns about increased risks of terrorism in the region and beyond.

17:35 GMT 01.09.2021

The European Union should establish a dialogue with the Taliban (a terrorist group, banned in Russia) but take time to decide whether to recognize the group as the legitimate authority in Afghanistan, Gunnar Wiegand, the managing director for Asia and the Pacific of the EU foreign service, said on Wednesday.

"We need to communicate with the Taliban, we need to influence the Taliban, we need to make use of the leverages that we have but we will not rush into recognizing this new formation nor to establishing official relations," Wiegand said at a joint session of the European Parliament's committees with the delegation for relations with Afghanistan.

Earlier today, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said at a press conference in Qatar that the recognition of the Taliban by the EU would be contingent upon their observance of human rights in Afghanistan.

17:17 GMT 01.09.2021
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid speaks to Badri 313 military unit at Kabul's airport, Afghanistan August 31, 2021 in this still image obtained from a handout video.  Taliban/Handout via REUTERS   ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.  - Sputnik International, 1920
Taliban Calls on All Countries to Return Diplomatic Missions to Afghanistan - Spokesman
16:56 GMT 01.09.2021

The Taliban radical movement (recognized as a terrorist group and banned in Russia) is planning foreign visits of members of the new government after its final formation, the movement's spokesman Mohammad Naeem said in an interview with Sputnik.

According to Naeem, it is necessary to stabilize the situation in the country, "it is necessary to resolve a number of unresolved issues."

"It is necessary to form a government that will definitely have visits and embassies in different states. Countries need to interact with this new regime," Naeem said.

16:55 GMT 01.09.2021

The Taliban radical movement (recognized as a terrorist group and banned in Russia) is not going to take the Panjshir province, which is not under the control of the movement, by force, the movement's spokesman Mohammad Naeem said in an interview with Sputnik.

He denied media reports that the leaders of the resistance had declared the lack of results in the negotiations and the intention of the Taliban to enter the province with the use of military force.

"It was not said that we would enter by force, it was said that we had tried many times to reach an agreement, but the dialogue has not brought results so far and that there are still some difficulties. At the same time, we want to solve the problem through dialogue — this is our position. We want to solve the problem, and a peaceful solution is a priority," Naeem said.

He explained that the Taliban wanted Panjshir residents to expel those who create problems.

Commenting on proposals to create a security zone in Panjshir, he called them pointless.

"We have repeatedly said that everyone who wanted to leave the country was given such an opportunity, and, as you can see, they destroyed the airport. At the same time, there are no problems on our part," the Taliban spokesman added.

16:43 GMT 01.09.2021

History shows that the United States' presence in other countries has never benefited these countries or their regions, and Afghanistan is yet another example thereof, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said on Wednesday, as cited by the state-run IRNA news agency.

"If we look only at the number of women and children who have been killed, injured or maimed in Afghanistan over these years, we will see what a catastrophic tragedy has been going on in that country," Raisi was quoted as saying in his remarks on the 20-year US presence in the Central Asian country.

Raisi criticized the US government for launching propaganda campaigns against other countries.

The US-led coalition entered Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban (outlawed in Russia) in 2001. The Islamist movement went underground, while a US-backed civilian government was formed to govern the country. Brutal Taliban attacks on the government and civilians continued, resulting in heavy human losses and damage to infrastructure.

With the start of the US withdrawal in May began the Taliban offensive to retake Afghanistan. On August 15, the radical movement entered Kabul and declared victory. The last US plane left the Kabul airport on August 31.

According to World Food Program, even before the militant takeover, the country of 38 million had more than half of its population living below the poverty line.

16:43 GMT 01.09.2021

The United Nations is actively seeking to gain access to the Kabul airport to start delivering humanitarian assistance directly to the Afghan capital, UN Deputy Special Representative and Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Afghanistan Ramiz Alakbarov said in a press briefing on Wednesday.

“We are actively requesting and talking about the access... to the Kabul airport, where we hope the services will be restored soon, so that we can start delivering food and non-food items directly to Kabul. Right now we do not have that opportunity,” Alakbarov said.

16:08 GMT 01.09.2021
European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen attend the EU Parliament plenary session in Brussels, Belgium April 26, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920
European Parliament Holds Meeting on the Situation in Afghanistan
15:33 GMT 01.09.2021

The Dutch foreign ministry's director general for political affairs, Thijs van der Plas, and Taliban (terrorist group, banned in Russia) political deputy chief Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai met in Qatar on Wednesday for talks on evacuations and humanitarian aid, a Taliban spokesperson said.

"They discussed the current situation in Afghanistan for Afghans and foreign travelers, keeping the airport open, bilateral relations and other political issues," Mohammad Naeem, a spokesman for the Taliban's political office in Doha, tweeted.

The Taliban official called for humanitarian and development assistance to Afghanistan and assured the Dutch diplomat that the militant group would fully cooperate with donors.

Van der Plas came to Doha together with Dutch Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag, who spoke to her Qatari counterpart about the need to reopen the Kabul airport to resume evacuations. She said that the Dutch embassy in Afghanistan would be temporarily moved to Doha from Kabul.

14:55 GMT 01.09.2021

Taliban (a terrorist organization banned in Russia) supreme leader Haibatullah Akhunzada will become the head of the new Afghan government, Anamullah Samangani, a member of the Taliban’s cultural commission, said on Wednesday.

"There is no doubt about the presence of the Commander of the Faithful (Akhunzada) in the government. He will be the leader of the government and there should be no question on this," Samangani said, as quoted by the Afghan TOLO News agency.

The Taliban is expected to announce the formation of the new government on Friday.

14:10 GMT 01.09.2021

The first set of goods have been delivered to Afghanistan since the fall of Kabul to the Taliban (a terrorist organization banned in Russia), the chamber of commerce in the Bakh province told Sputnik on Wednesday.

Food and basic necessities were delivered via the Hairatan town on the border with Uzbekistan.

14:04 GMT 01.09.2021

The Taliban (a terrorist group, banned in Russia) appointed a governor of the Panjshir province, the only region free of the movement's control, the Taliban's senior leader, Amir Khan Muttaqi, said, as cited by the Afghan 1TV broadcaster on Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, Muttaqi said that negotiations between the Taliban and the Panjshir resistance had not yielded any results.

Panjshir, located northeast of Kabul, remains the only Afghan province that has not fallen to the Taliban. The resistance forces are led by Ahmad Massoud, who pledged to surrender if the Taliban would provide freedom and equality for all citizens and form an inclusive government.

13:16 GMT 01.09.2021

The Taliban (terrorist organization banned in Russia) movement said on Wednesday that its militants seized six outposts in Afghanistan’s Panjshir province where resistance forces are located, the Afghan news agency Pajhwok reported.

Earlier in the day, the movement’s representative said that negotiations with Panjshir resistance have failed.

12:06 GMT 01.09.2021

DUSHANBE (Sputnik) - Veteran Afghan commander Amir Ismail Khan, who was captured by the Taliban (a terrorist group, banned in Russia) in Herat province last month, is now safe in Iran, the Afghan ambassador to Tajikistan, Mohammad Zahir Aghbar, told Sputnik.

On 13 August, media reported that Khan, a former Herat governor, had been captured and placed under house arrest in his residence soon after the province fell under the militants.

"His colleagues and friends managed to transport him to Iran, where he is now safe. He is alive and well," Aghbar said.

12:05 GMT 01.09.2021
U.S. Army Sgt. Patrick Harrington, Soldier assigned to the USAG Italy 18th Military Police Detachment, conducts basic obedience drills with his military working dog “Aran”, under Covid-19 prevention condition at Caserma Ederle in Vicenza, Italy, on May 14, 2020 - Sputnik International, 1920
Two US Service Dogs Left at Kabul Airport After Troop Withdrawal, Taliban Source Says
11:54 GMT 01.09.2021

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The Russian Foreign Ministry expects that the launch of inter-Afghan dialogue will ease tensions over Afghanistan’s Panjshir province as preventing escalation into the civil war is crucial, Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov told Sputnik on 1 September.

"We expect that the launch of an inclusive inter-Afghan peace dialogue will help to ease the tensions over the Panjshir province, where ethnic minorities’ leaders are gathered headed by [Ahmad Massoud], the son of deceased [ex-Afghan guerrilla commander] Ahmad Shah Massoud. It is crucial that the situation do not escalate into a civil war," Morgulov said.

The Taliban (terrorist organisation, banned in Russia) takeover in Afghanistan is a result of the US 20-year-long "efforts to democratise" Afghanistan, and it proves that the country’s society does not accept any control and governance, imposed from outside Afghanistan, the deputy minister added.

The Panjshir province, the stronghold of the National Resistance Front, headed by Massoud, was surrounded by the Taliban. Massoud pledged to step down in case the Islamist movement forms an inclusive government and guarantees equal rights for all Afghans. The Taliban-Panjshir negotiations have yielded no results so far.

10:38 GMT 01.09.2021
09:51 GMT 01.09.2021
09:49 GMT 01.09.2021

LONDON (Sputnik) – The UK minister for Afghan resettlement, Victoria Atkins, confirmed on Wednesday that the London was in talks with the Taliban (a terrorist organisation, banned in Russia) to ensure the Islamic authorities guarantee safe passage for British nationals and Afghan collaborators left behind in Afghanistan.

"As it’s been announced overnight, Simon Gass, the prime minister’s special envoy [for Afghan transition] is very much there in Doha at the moment discussing with senior Taliban figures their future," Atkins told Sky News broadcaster.

On Tuesday, UK Foreign Minister Dominic Raab admitted that several hundreds of UK nationals and Afghans who were eligible for evacuation after the Taliban takeover had been left behind in the Central Asian country past the 31 August foreign military withdrawal deadline.

According to Atkins, the UK Conservative government will use "every lever at our disposal" to ensure the Taliban abide by the recent UN Security Council resolution urging them to allow safe passage for those attempting to leave the country.

09:43 GMT 01.09.2021

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov told Sputnik that terrorist threat persists in Afghanistan, as activities of the Daesh terrorist group ( banned in Russia) contribute to the degradation of security.

"The terrorist threat from the Afghan territory persists. The activities of ISIS, which claimed responsibility for the August 26 bombings in the Kabul airport, remain a significant factor of the degradation of the situation in Afghanistan. In these circumstances, the ISIS is unlikely to lay down arms and abandon the idea of establishing a global caliphate. Militants of this and other terrorist groups could cross into countries neighboring Afghanistan, including under the guise of refugees. The problem of drug production and smuggling remains acute. The efforts of the previous Afghan government were clearly not enough to solve it. Let us see how the new authorities will do it," Morgulov said.

09:43 GMT 01.09.2021
An overview of crowds at the Abbey Gate at Hamid Karzai International Airport, in Kabul, Afghanistan August 24, 2021, in this satellite image obtained by Reuters on August 26, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920
Pressure Piles on Raab After Reports UK Embassy Told Afghans to Wait by Airport Gate Before Bombing
08:08 GMT 01.09.2021
08:08 GMT 01.09.2021
Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Cullman, Alabama, U.S., August 21, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920
Trump Says 'Whole World Deserves' Biden's Apology Over 'Disastrous' US Troop Exit From Afghanistan
08:08 GMT 01.09.2021
Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech at a congress of the ruling United Russia party in Moscow, Russia August 24, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920
Putin: America's 20-Year Presence in Afghanistan Only Led to Tragedies
08:06 GMT 01.09.2021
08:06 GMT 01.09.2021
07:28 GMT 01.09.2021
06:00 GMT 01.09.2021
U.S.  President Joe Biden delivers remarks on evacuation efforts and the ongoing situation in Afghanistan during a speech in the East Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., August 20, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920
Afghan Interpreter Who Once Helped Save Joe Biden Reportedly Begging US for Rescue from Kabul
05:59 GMT 01.09.2021
Refugees from Afghanistan wait to be processed after arriving on an evacuation flight at Heathrow Airport, in London, Britain August 26, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920
Britain, Taliban in Talks on 'Safe Passage Out of Afghanistan' for UK Nationals, Allied Afghans
05:05 GMT 01.09.2021
Taliban fighters march in uniforms on the street in Qalat, Zabul Province, Afghanistan, in this still image taken from social media video uploaded August 19, 2021 and obtained by REUTERS - Sputnik International, 1920
'Possible Axis of China, Pakistan, and Taliban a Cause of Worry', Warns Ex-Indian Minister
05:00 GMT 01.09.2021
04:46 GMT 01.09.2021
Members of the UK Armed Forces rest as they continue to take part in the evacuation of entitled personnel from Kabul airport, in Kabul, Afghanistan August 19-22, 2021, in this handout picture obtained by Reuters on August 23, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920
Is BoJo Gov't Ready to Tackle Potential Terror Threats From Afghanistan's Daesh-K & Other Jihadists?
04:34 GMT 01.09.2021

Afghan Ambassador to Tajikistan Mohammad Zahir Aghbar said on 31 August that the Taliban (a terrorist group, banned in Russia) is planning to terminate the leader of the resistance in the Afghan province of Panjshir, Ahmad Massoud. Aghbar previously claimed the only lawful source of power in Afghanistan is the Panjshir Province resistance. 

Panjshir, situated northeast of Kabul, is the only Afghan province that has not fallen to the Taliban.

To participate in the discussion
log in or register
Заголовок открываемого материала