Watch five dramatic moments in Afghanistan’s chaotic collapse

The world got a glimpse of the chaotic scene in Afghanistan on Monday when videos and images were shared online showing the Taliban’s takeover of the capital, Kabul.

The sights of Afghans trying to flee on a U.S. plane, Taliban fighters at the former president’s desk and President Biden in an empty situation room will be lasting reminders of how quickly Afghanistan crumbled amid the withdrawal of U.S. troops after almost 20 years in the country.

Here are five moments that illustrate the turmoil.

Desperate Afghans cling to plane, seeking escape

The harrowing videos of panic at the Kabul airport show Afghans clinging to U.S. military aircraft as the planes try to take off.

Thousands of people poured onto the runway and ran alongside a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport plane, and several Afghans were seen in another video falling off the plane as it took off. 

The U.S. was in the midst of evacuating American personnel but halted the flights as Afghan civilians flooded the tarmac. The Pentagon on Monday said all flights would be postponed out of an abundance of caution.

“We’ve certainly seen all the dramatic video coming from the airport today and we obviously don’t want anyone else to get hurt,” Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby told reporters.

Seven people were killed in the evacuation, including two armed individuals fatally shot by U.S. troops. The Pentagon called the shooting an act of self-defense and said the two people killed were not with the Taliban.

Taliban fighters take Kabul, sit at president’s desk


The Taliban entered Kabul on Sunday, the same day Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country.

Ghani said his escape was an effort to avoid clashes. Soon after his departure, members of the Taliban were seen occupying the presidential palace.

With Taliban white flags hanging all over Kabul, heavily armed fighters breached the abandoned palace and sat at the president’s desk, photos from Al Jazeera showed.

An official for the Taliban told The Associated Press that they will soon announce the establishment of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan from the presidential palace.

That name was used by the Taliban before they were driven out by U.S. forces after the 9/11 attacks.

Shopkeepers paint over images of women

Store owners in Kabul prepared for the arrival of the Taliban by painting over photographs of women on the sides of shops. An image circulated of a person rolling white paint over photographs of women modeling white dresses and crowns, shared by Vice News international correspondent Ben Solomon.

The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan puts women and girls at great risk as the Islamic extremist group is expected to roll back rights for women. When the Taliban controlled the country before 2001, they outlawed education for girls and prohibited women from working. Women also were banned from leaving their homes unless they were accompanied by a man.

Very few women were on the streets of Kabul on Monday, CNN’s Clarissa Ward reported. She said that women outside their homes were dressed more conservatively than they were just a week ago. 

“I’ve seen more burkas today than I had seen in a while. Obviously I am dressed in a very different way than how I would normally dress to walk down the streets of Kabul,” said Ward, whose head and arms were covered.

After speaking with members of the Taliban, Ward said, “They’ve just told me to stand to the side because I’m a woman.”

Taliban fighters seize US equipment

Taliban fighters have seized arms and equipment left behind by the Afghan military. The weapons were supplied by the U.S. in an effort to prepare Afghan defense forces for when American troops left.

While U.S. forces took “sophisticated” equipment with them when they left, Taliban fighters have been able to seize vehicles, Humvees, weapons and ammunition, Agence France-Presse reported.

“America already spent enough time in Afghanistan, they need to leave, they already lost lots of lives and lots of money,” a member of the Taliban told CNN.

Taliban fighters also reportedly began collecting weapons from civilians, saying people in Kabul don’t need weapons for personal safety anymore because they can now feel safe.

Biden alone in situation room

The White House shared a stark image of Biden sitting alone at an empty table participating in a video conference Sunday. He was speaking virtually with his national security team, senior officials and Vice President Harris to discuss the situation in Afghanistan. 

The photo of the president alone in the situation room at Camp David came a day before he announced plans to return to Washington and address the nation on Monday.

The White House also shared an image, on Saturday, of Biden alone at the table, speaking by video with Harris and others.

The administration has been on the defensive over its response to the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan went on NBC News on Monday to defend the withdrawal.

“It is certainly the case that the speed with which cities fell was much greater than anyone anticipated, including the Afghans, including many of the analysts who looked hard at this problem,” Sullivan said on NBC’s “Today.”

Tags Afghan security forces Afghanistan Afghanistan collapse Extremism Jake Sullivan Joe Biden Kabul the taliban us troop withdrawal Women's rights

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