Taliban fighters have entered Afghanistan’s presidential palace in Kabul and declared that the country is under their control.
It comes following a military campaign that commenced after US president Joe Biden announced in April that the US would withdraw its troops from the country by September 11.
In a lightning offensive in just over a week, Taliban insurgents took control of nearly all of Afghanistan, entering the capital of Kabul on Sunday Aug. 15.
The country’s president Ashraf Ghani reportedly fled earlier in the day and the government collapsed.
The group, which controlled the majority of Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, are expected to declare a new Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in the coming days.
Its rapid return to power comes despite the US spending almost two decades and hundreds of billions of dollars to build up the Afghan government and its defense forces against the insurgents.
During its rule, the Taliban enforced a strict interpretation of Sharia, or Islamic law, committing massacres against Afghan civilians, denying hundreds of thousands of starving civilians UN food supplies and carrying out a scorched earth policy of burning fertile land and destroying tens of thousands of homes.
It banned girls from going to school and workplaces and required them to be accompanied by a male relative and wear a burqa at all times in public. Women hwho disobeyed were whipped or executed.
Cultural activities and media, such as art, movies and music, were also prohibited.
The Taliban had been overthrown in November 2001 by a US-led military coalition launched in the wake of the September 11 attacks, which were orchestrated by al-Qaida while it was being sheltered by the Taliban, according to AP.
On Sunday afternoon, the Taliban swept into Kabul with little resistance.
Despite the Taliban’s announcement that it was seeking a peaceful transition of power, there were chaotic scenes at Kabul airport, as people fearful of a return to the previous harsh practices, tried to escape and Western countries scrambled to evacuate its citizens.
More than 60 countries have issued a joint statement issued by the US State Department calling on those in power in Afghanistan to allow Afghans and international citizens who wish to leave the country to depart.