The UN Security Council adopted a resolution Monday, requiring the Taliban to honour a commitment to let people freely leave Afghanistan in the days ahead
The hardline Islamist Taliban celebrated their total return to power on Tuesday with gunfire and diplomacy, after the last US troops flew out of Afghanistan to end two decades of war.
The United States’ longest military conflict drew to a close on Monday night when its forces abandoned Kabul’s airport, where it had overseen a frenzied airlift that saw more than 123,000 people flee.
“Congratulations to Afghanistan… this victory belongs to us all,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told reporters hours later on the runway of the airport.
Many Afghans are terrified of a repeat of the Taliban’s initial rule from 1996-2001, which was infamous for their treatment of girls and women, as well as a brutal justice system.
“We want to have good relations with the US and the world. We welcome good diplomatic relations with them all,” he said.
Fawzia Koofi, a rights activist and former negotiator for the ousted government who has twice survived assassination attempts, appealed to the Taliban to include all Afghans as they turn to governing the country.
– Terror threat –
The slightly early finish followed a threat from the regional offshoot of the Islamic State group, rivals of the Taliban, to attack the US forces at the airport.
The US-led airlift began as the Taliban completed an astonishing rout of government forces around the country and reached the capital on August 14.
Biden said he would address the nation on Tuesday in Washington, as his critics continued to savage him for his handling of the withdrawal.
Biden’s top diplomat, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, was able to offer little more than stern words for the Taliban.
– Airport uncertainty –
Blinken said a small number of US citizens remained in the country — “under 200” but likely closer to just 100.
Western allies have voiced heartbreak in recent days that not all Afghans who wanted to flee could get on the evacuation flights.
Talks are ongoing as to who will now run Kabul airport.
– Civilian deaths –
On Monday, it also claimed to have fired six rockets at the airport. A Taliban official said the attack was intercepted by the airport’s missile defence systems.
Members of one family told AFP they believed a fatal error had been made, and that 10 members of the same family were killed.