Taliban claims management of Panjshir province; Resistance chief requires extra fight: LIVE UPDATES

Austin: US will work with allies in the Persian Gulf on diplomatic approaches to security threats

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told a press briefing with Qatar’s top diplomats and defense officials at a press briefing in Doha on Tuesday that the Biden administration would work with allies in the Persian Gulf on diplomatic approaches to security threats in the region.

Quoting what he called Iranian support for extremists, Austin said the country was supplying “increasingly lethal weapons” to so-called terrorist groups.

Both Defense Secretary and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken thanked Qatar for helping tens of thousands of evacuees transit from Afghanistan.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Blinken: US State Department partners with Taliban on charter flights

At a joint press conference in Doha, Qatar, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday that the State Department was working in coordination with the Taliban to enable additional charter flights from Kabul for people who want to leave Afghanistan after the US military and diplomatic withdrawal.

Blinken said the US had been in contact with the Taliban “in the last few hours” to make arrangements and the group had assured safe passage to anyone intending to leave Afghanistan with proper travel documents.

The secretary said America would keep the Taliban promise and that the US believes that there are “somewhere about 100” American citizens still in Afghanistan who want to leave.

The State Department had previously estimated the number at 100 to 200 US citizens.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Taliban break up rally in Kabul and arrest journalists

The Taliban fired gunfire Tuesday to break up a rally in Kabul and arrested several Afghan journalists covering the demonstration, according to witnesses and Afghan media.

The protest began outside the Pakistani embassy to denounce Pakistan’s interference in Afghanistan, particularly Islamabad’s alleged support for the Taliban’s struggle in Panjshir province.

An Afghan journalist arrested during the rally later told The Associated Press that he was being punished by the Taliban.

“They made me rub my nose on the floor and apologize for covering up the protest,” he said on condition of anonymity.

“The journalism is that Afghanistan is getting more and more difficult,” he added.

Afghan TV station TOLOnews said its cameraman Wahid Ahmadi was among those arrested.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Blinking: USA identifies “relatively” small numbers of Americans, the Mazar-i-Sharif. want to leave

US officials in Washington have identified a “relatively” small number of Americans trying to exit Mazar-i-Sharif International Airport, Foreign Secretary Antony Blinken said Tuesday in Qatar, Reuters reported.

Blinken says the State Department is working with the Taliban to facilitate additional charter flights from Kabul for people planning to leave Afghanistan after the American military and diplomatic departure.

It appeared to be the first time the Biden administration confirmed the presence of Americans at the airport after several reports reported Taliban fighters blocked Americans aboard six planes at the airport. Three Americans who were involved in the private evacuations blew up the State Department over the weekend for preventing evacuation flights from leaving the country.

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Defiant Panjshir leader Ahmad Massoud is calling for a national uprising against the Taliban

Ahmad Massoud, the leader of the Afghan National Resistance Front, said in an audio released Monday that his group would continue the fight despite the Taliban’s claims to have taken control of Panjshir province.

“Wherever you are, inside or outside, I urge you to start a national uprising for the dignity, freedom and prosperity of our country,” he said, according to the BBC.

Its armed forces include members of the Afghan army and other militias. He said he was safe, Reuters reported.

“We are in Panjshir and our resistance will continue,” he said.

The Taliban issued a statement Monday claiming control of Panjshir province north of Kabul, which served as the staging area of ​​the country’s last resistance force.

Al Jazeera reported that there are concerns about the 130,000 people believed to be trapped there. Taliban forces have essentially cut off the area from the rest of the country and there is a food shortage, the report said.

“Whatever people had in their houses they have been eating for weeks, the shops and bazaars are all empty,” a civilian from Panjshiri told the news agency. “I have sick people in my family and I have no way of helping them.”

State Dept is trying to steal credit to save 4 Americans from Afghanistan, the organizer says

The organizer of a private mission to rescue American mother Mariam and her three children from Afghanistan says the US State Department is now trying to fit into the history of their evacuation, although it plays little or no role in much of the rescue effort.

Senior State Department officials announced Monday that “the US has facilitated the safe land exit of four US citizens from Afghanistan. Embassy staff were present upon their arrival.”

However, those actually involved in the dangerous rescue operation say the State Department deserves little to no credit for Mariam’s escape from Afghanistan.

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State Department, White House holds up charter planes in Afghanistan, says top New York City editor

The White House and State Department hold charter planes at an airport in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan, that would transport 19 Americans and 40 SIV owners to Albania, NewYorker.com editor-in-chief David Rohde said in an interview Monday .

“I want to repeat that,” he said. “It’s the State Department and the White House” that are holding up the planes.

He said the civilian effort was “much more ambitious, much more dynamic and much more successful than what the government has done so far”.

On Sunday, Rep. Mike McCaul, R-Texas, told Fox News that the Taliban blocked Americans on board six planes at Mazar-i-Sharif International Airport. Three Americans who were involved in the private evacuation of those still in the country also blew up the State Department for preventing evacuation flights from leaving the country.

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