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Live Reporting

Edited by Toby Luckhurst

All times stated are UK

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  1. We're pausing our coverage

    We're pausing our live page coverage of developments in Afghanistan. Thanks for joining us. Here's a round-up of the latest developments:

    • A UN document says the Taliban are intensifying their hunt for people who worked for and collaborated with Nato and US forces
    • Among those killed is a relative of a Deutsche Welle journalist they were hunting for
    • There has been continuing chaos at Kabul airport where Western nations are evacuating their citizens and Afghans who worked with them
    • Some 7,000 Americans and other evacuees, including Afghan allies, have been airlifted out of the airport since Sunday
    • The heartbreaking scenes at the airport include the case of a child handed over to soldiers over a wall at the airport, as seen in the video below

    You can follow the latest here

    Video content

    Video caption: Afghanistan: Child handed over Kabul airport wall as chaos continues
  2. US jets securing evacuation of Kabul

    US soldiers stand guard as Afghan people wait to board a US military aircraft to leave Afghanistan
    Image caption: American soldiers stand guard as Afghan people wait to board a US military aircraft to leave Afghanistan

    Armed US fighter jets are making passes over Kabul and the international airport as it attempts secure the evacuation of American citizens and allies from Afghanistan, the Pentagon has said.

    The warplanes are not making “low passes”, said Pentagon press secretary, John F Kirby, but only providing “overwatch”.

    “We will use all of the tools in our arsenal to achieve the goal” of protecting Americans, Kirby said.

    Some 7,000 Americans and other evacuees, including Afghan allies, have been airlifted out of the airport since Sunday..

  3. Poll: Afghan war unpopular among Americans

    Joe Biden

    Most Americans doubt the war in Afghanistan was worthwhile, a recent poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research has found.

    Roughly two-thirds said they did not think the two-decade war was worth fighting, as the US conducts its hasty exit.

    And the war has divided Americans on President Joe Biden's handling of foreign policy, with 47% of those polled saying they approve of Biden's management of international affairs.

    The poll was conducted on 12-16 August, amid the Taliban's capture of Kabul.

    Biden, who prides himself on his foreign policy experience, has stood by the US exit, saying in an interview with ABC News on Wednesday that he would not acknowledge any mistakes.

  4. Top Taliban leader likely to head government

    The Taliban is yet to announce how it will lead Afghanistan, but a senior leader has given some hints, according to Tolo News.

    Wahidullah Hashemi said a council might be formed to govern the country under the authority of the Taliban’s top leader Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada, the Afghan news site reports.

    “Discussions haven’t been conducted on what it will be like - perhaps we will establish a council,” he says.

    Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada has led the Taliban since May 2016 and is in charge of its political, military and religious affairs.

    Another figure considered a possible contender for Afghanistan's new leader is Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. He co-founded the Taliban in Afghanistan in 1994 and has been at the heart of political negotiations with the US in recent years, heading the group’s political office in Qatar.

    You can read more on the Taliban leadership here.

    Graphic showing the Taliban's leadership structure
  5. Italian consul in Kabul: I witnessed dramatic scenes

    People disembark from a military plane at Fiumicino airport after being brought out of Afghanistan, in Rome, Italy
    Image caption: The first Italian evacuation flight out of Kabul landed in Rome on Wednesday

    An Italian diplomat has spoken about the challenging conditions in which rescue operations are taking place at Kabul airport.

    "We've unfortunately had to witness dramatic scenes but we have managed in conditions of absolute emergency to bring home our compatriots and some of our Afghan colleagues," Tommaso Claudi, told Ansa news agency.

    The first Italian evacuation flight carrying 86 people landed in Rome on Wednesday.

    Later two C130 planes carrying a total of 200 people lifted off from Kabul in the afternoon and evening, Italy's defence ministry said.

    Claudi remained in Kabul to manage the return operations on site.

    "In Afghanistan we are witnessing a great humanitarian tragedy and we are all doing our utmost," he said.

    Italy's minister of defence thanked the "more than 1,500 Italian soldiers who are carrying out, non-stop, an extraordinary job to ensure the transport of Afghan collaborators and their families".

  6. Taliban kill relative of journalist

    Taliban militants have shot dead a relative of a journalist they were hunting and seriously injured another.

    The militants were carrying out a house-to-house search in the western city of Herat to try to find the journalist from Deutsche Welle, who now works in Germany.

    Other relatives managed to escape and are now on the run.

    "The killing of a close relative of one of our editors by the Taliban in Herat yesterday is inconceivably tragic, and testifies to the acute danger in which all our employees and their families in Afghanistan find themselves," DW's director general, Peter Limbourg said.

    It is evident that the Taliban are already carrying out organised searches for journalists, both in Kabul and in the provinces. We are running out of time!"

    The Taliban have raided the homes of at least three DW journalists in recent weeks.

    The news of the killing comes as a UN document said the Taliban are intensifying their hunt for people who worked for and collaborated with Nato and US forces.

  7. Reality Check

    Who supported Trump's Taliban deal?

    The UK's Defence Secretary Ben Wallace claimed this morning that Labour Leader Keir Starmer had supported the deal between the US and the Taliban last year.

    The deal – secured by Donald Trump and signed in Doha, Qatar in February 2020 – committed to the withdrawal of US and allied (including British) troops from Afghanistan by May 2021.

    After his election, US President Joe Biden continued the plan for withdrawal but with an end date of 31 August.

    At the time, Mr Wallace praised Mr Trump’s deal as a “small but important step towards the chance for Afghans to live in peace, free from terrorism".

    But in the past week, Mr Wallace has described the deal as “rotten”. He has said that just after the deal he publicly expressed that it was a “mistake”, but we have yet to find a reference to this in either Parliamentary records or news cuttings from the time.

    Ben Wallace
    Image caption: Ben Wallace, the UK's defence secretary, initially said Donald Trump's deal with the Taliban was "rotten"

    Mr Wallace said today: “I never heard from a single Labour MP when that deal was done, 18 months ago… one single criticism. In fact, Keir Starmer supported it, as did all other parties in the House of Commons.”

    We have found no evidence that Mr Starmer publicly supported last year’s deal in the period after it was announced. But it should be noted he was not Labour leader then, and nor was there any debate in the Commons over the terms of the deal.

    In yesterday’s debate Mr Starmer focused on the lack of planning for the withdrawal rather than saying he had opposed it and said: “Nobody believes that Britain and our allies could have remained in Afghanistan indefinitely, or that Britain could have fought alone.”

    Mr Wallace also said this morning that he had “felt uncomfortable” about the Doha deal and “made representations to the US and others at the time”.

  8. Mum of killed soldier defends troops' legacy

    Lee Mackie speaking to the BBC

    The mother of a soldier killed while serving in Afghanistan has insisted British troops did make a positive difference in the war-torn country.

    Royal Marine Jason Mackie, who lived in Oxford, died in an explosion in Helmand province in 2009.

    Marine Mackie's mother said the US-led intervention in the country had provided Afghans with respite from an oppressive regime.

    "There was a certain amount of normality, women's rights and education was progressing" she said.

    In recent days some veterans and relatives of deceased soldiers have question whether the return of the Taliban to the country meant 457 British soldiers had died in vain.

    Read more here.

  9. How Taliban victory will test South Asia

    Vikas Pandey

    BBC News, Delhi

    People arriving from Afghanistan cross the fence at the Friendship Gate crossing point, in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border town of Chaman,

    The Taliban's blisteringly fast takeover of Afghanistan has stunned security and diplomacy experts worldwide. Days after the fall of Kabul, nations are hurriedly evacuating their diplomats and citizens, leaving behind two decades of work and investments.

    The Taliban's rout is likely to cause a significant shift in the geopolitics of South Asia, and it could be particularly testing for India, given the country's historically tense relations and border disputes with Pakistan and China - both are expected to play a crucial role in Afghanistan's future.

    Pakistan shares a porous border with Afghanistan and has long been an active player in its northern neighbour's affairs. Now China is showing an interest in playing a bigger role in Afghanistan. Foreign minister Wang Yi's meeting with senior Taliban leaders last month shows Beijing doesn't want to be a silent player anymore.

    This potential geopolitical realignment could "change things upside down", said Gautam Mukhopadhaya, India's former ambassador to Afghanistan and Syria.

    Read more from Vikas

  10. Can Taliban's takeover be seen as Pakistan's win over India?

    Many in India and Pakistan see the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan as Islamabad's win over India.

    But experts say that is too simplistic a view and Pakistan's hold over the Taliban has been exaggerated.

    Former Indian diplomat Jitendra Nath Misra told the BBC's Vikas Pandey that the Taliban did not recognise the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    "Making the Taliban respect the border will be a top priority for Islamabad," he says.

    But there is no doubt that Pakistan now has better strategic reach in Afghanistan over India but they also have bigger issues to solve.

    And one of them is to ensure that the Tehrik-i-Taliban - the group responsible for launching attacks in Pakistan - do not get support from the Taliban in Afghanistan.

    Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Wilson Center think-tank in Washington, says Pakistan shares a long and porous border with Afghanistan and that can cause all kinds of issues.

    The Taliban has released several known militants from jails and some of them could reenter Pakistan. "So India is not likely to be the main factor for Pakistan at the moment," says Kugelman.

  11. Former US military chief questions Biden withdrawal plan

    Today Programme

    BBC Radio 4

    Admiral Mike Mullen speaking to Congress in 2012.

    The former head of the US military has questioned President Biden's decision to withdraw American troops in the middle of Afghanistan's "fighting season".

    Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Admiral Mike Mullen also criticised Biden's failure to consult with US allies before withdrawing troops.

    "We have had a real struggle here with respect to our relationships" he said. "I certainly understand how they would be both disappointed and raising questions about who we are and what we stand for".

    Admiral Mullen, who oversaw the surge of US troops into Afghanistan under President Obama, noted that the US mission had some successes, including tackling the threat posed by al-Qaeda training camps, but accepted major mistakes had been made over the past 20 years.

    "We got it wrong on the nation building side" he said. "We got it wrong with respect to the level of corruption under Karzai’s government and Ghani’s government, in the police and in the military and all the way up the chain and I think in great part that was the undoing of the mission."

    Read more:

  12. Trudeau: 'Almost impossible' to get all Canadians out

    Justin Trudeau

    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said it is unlikely Canada will be able to safely evacuate all Canadians and its allies from Afghanistan because of the Taliban's grip on Kabul.

    “It is going to be very, very difficult to get many people out,” he said. “We will get some, certainly, but to get many people out, as many as we want, is going to be almost impossible in the coming weeks.”

    Trudeau's comments come from a campaign stop in British Columbia. The Liberal leader is seeking a third term as prime minister in an autumn federal election.

    Canada now has massive transport aircraft on the ground in Kabul, Trudeau said, and has forces working with Afghans to get them out of the country.

    “The limit, however, is not on Canadian capacity or Canadian airlifts; the limit on getting people out is the fact that the Taliban continue to block access for Afghans,” he said.

  13. Perilous journey to freedom for Afghans in Kabul

    Satellite image of traffic in Kabul

    This satellite image shows the traffic jams in Kabul as thousands of citizens and foreign nationals attempt to get to the airport - the last route out of Afghanistan for many.

    Scenes at the airport have become increasingly desperate with footage showing children being passed over walls to foreign soldiers and people trying to climb over barbed wire into the airport compound.

    Heavily-armed Taliban fighters now ring the airport's perimeter fence, and there are reports of shots being fired and injuries. One journalist reported seeing Taliban fighters also use sticks and rope to lash civilians.

    You can read more about the perilous journey to Kabul's airport here.

  14. Uganda yet to decide on taking in Afghan refugees

    The government in Uganda says it is yet to decide whether it will take in 2,000 Afghan refugees, local media there is reporting.

    It comes after reports that the country would temporarily host them after a request made by the US.

    "No decision has been made, whether they will come or not. It's a suggestion, a proposal, discussions are going on... no substantive decision has been made," Daily Monitor reported Gen Jeje Odongo, from the foreign affairs committee, as saying on Thursday.

    He said that Uganda had been approached because it had a reputation internationally of helping people in distress.

    Uganda has a long history of welcoming refugees, and is currently home to around 1.3 million people.

    The East African nation has the largest number of refugees in any country in Africa - and the third largest in the world.

  15. Biden on Afghanistan, fact-checked

    Joe Biden

    President Joe Biden on Wednesday made a series of assertions about US policy in Afghanistan and the reasons behind his decision to withdraw forces from the country.

    But are they true?

    The BBC fact-checked some of his claims, comparing them with his earlier statements on Afghanistan and the situation on the ground.

    "We trained and equipped an Afghan military force of some 300,000 strong"

    This figure is contested, and considered by many experts to be a substantial overestimate.

    A recent investigation by BBC Newsnight has uncovered evidence suggesting that the size of the army could be low as 50,000 - much lower even than the estimates of the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

    "Are we gonna continue to lose thousands of Americans to injury and death to try to unite that country?"

    Overall, since US forces invaded Afghanistan in October 2001, a total of 1,897 US military personnel were killed in action in Afghanistan and another 415 died from non-hostile causes, according to the US official monitoring body.

    From a peak at the height of the conflict a decade ago, the number of US casualties in Afghanistan has fallen in recent years. The last American combat deaths in Afghanistan were in February 2020.

    Read more of the BBC's analysis of Biden's Afghanistan claims.

  16. Analysis: 'A significant morale boost for al-Qaeda'

    Frank Gardner

    BBC Security Correspondent

    A Taliban flag is flown in Kandahar
    Image caption: A recent UN report said there were still strong ethnic and marital ties between the Taliban and al-Qaeda

    Al-Qaeda has been relatively quiet these last few years but it hasn’t gone away and now it is celebrating the return of the Taliban to power as a historic event and the start of forthcoming victories.

    Its branch in Yemen – Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula – once considered the most dangerous, has praised the Taliban as "an honourable and loyal group".

    This may not be what the Taliban leadership wants to hear publicly as they have promised to cut their ties to the proscribed terrorist organisation that used Afghanistan to plan the 9/11 attacks 20 years ago.

    There are currently estimated to be several hundred al-Qaeda militants in the country, some of whom have been reportedly sighted amidst the Taliban’s ranks.

    A recent UN report stated there were still strong ethnic and marital ties between the two groups.

    Without a Western military presence in Afghanistan, or a cooperative local intelligence service, it will now be much harder to identify and intercept al-Qaeda’s activities, especially in remote, rugged areas like Kunar province.

    Elsewhere in the world, al-Qaeda’s affiliates in East and West Africa have been steadily recruiting. They will have had a significant morale boost from what al-Qaeda sees as a humiliating defeat for the West.

    Read Frank Gardner's piece on foreign fighters in Afghanistan here

  17. 'Now I see how cruel people like the Taliban are'

    BBC OS

    Taliban militants patrol in Kabul
    Image caption: The BBC spoke with two interpreters who are still in the country

    Two interpreters who are still stuck in Afghanistan have explained how they fear for their lives under Taliban rule.

    Jay and Marwa have worked with foreign troops and government aid agencies, and spoke to BBC OS on World Service radio.

    "I am still in shock, the shock of losing everything. I am not living anymore," Marwa said.

    "I didn't have a plan to get a visa or get out. I had planned to stay here in my country to work for my people."

    Marwa added that one of her former colleagues was killed two months ago and was warned by colleagues that things were getting worse.

    "I had this passion to stay here and now I see how cruel people like the Taliban are," she added.

    "The Taliban have searched my own house, they have messaged me, they have told me that I am the leader of the enemies of the Taliban," Jay said.

    "They have seized my house, I'm not going to go there again, but it's not enough for them. They're looking for my life and the life of my family and that's exactly what they will be doing with every ally of the international forces."

    You can listen to the full interview here

    Names have been changed to protect the interviewees.

  18. Turkey's Erdogan urges Europe to 'take responsibility' for Afghan migrants

    Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

    Turkey President Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday urged Europe's leaders to take responsibility for the migrants now fleeing Afghanistan.

    Turkey has no intention of becoming "Europe's migrant storage unit", in the face of the ongoing chaos, he said, according to Reuters news agency.

    Since the Taliban's takeover this past weekend, tens of thousands of Afghans have scrambled to evacuate. Many have crossed into Turkey, according to migrant aid groups and state media.

    Turkey is home to some 4 million refugees, the majority of them Syrians who fled their country's civil war. The UN estimates Turkey currently hosts the most refugees of any country worldwide.

    Now, somewhere between 500 and 2,000 Afghans are estimated to arrive in Turkey every day.

    Speaking after a cabinet meeting, Erdogan also said that Turkey could engage in discussions with a Taliban-led government in Afghanistan regarding their "common agendas".

  19. 6,000 people in Kabul airport waiting for planes - US State Department

    Ned Price
    Image caption: Ned Price said the US is trying to process enough people as they possibly can

    Ned Price, spokesman for the US Department of State, is currently giving an update on the situation in Afghanistan.

    He said that the US is continuing to deploy additional consular officers to help evacuate people, including sending teams to Qatar and Kuwait.

    Price added that there are currently 6,000 people at Kabul airport that have been fully processed and are waiting to board planes out of the country. Some 20 flights are set to leave on Thursday evening.

    He said that the US has "significantly expanded" how many American citizens, locally employed staff and special immigrant visa applications are eligible to leave Afghanistan.

    Asked about those unable to reach the airport, Price said the state department had seen reports of "congestion" getting to the airport.

    "We are doing everything we can," he said, adding that the US has made it clear to the Taliban that "safe passage should be guaranteed for all of those who wish to transit to the airport".

  20. Afghans protest with national flag

    Thursday marks the 102nd anniversary of Afghanistan's independence, and small numbers of Afghans took to the streets waving their national flag in protest against the Taliban.

    The militants have been replacing the black, red and green national flag with their own white one.

    There were reports of casualties at a similar protest in Asadabad in the east of the country on Thursday, and three people were reported killed after shots were fired at a protest in the city of Jalalabad on Wednesday.

    Video content

    Video caption: Afghanistan: Protesters wave national flag at Independence Day protests