World Taliban fighters reportedly brawl inside presidential palace over power divide
US to evacuate Afghanistan embassy staff as Taliban seize more provincial capitals
The United States said Thursday it will send troops to evacuate embassy staff from Kabul, as a rapid Taliban advance across Afghanistan saw more than a third of the country's provincial capitals fall in a week. The announcement came hours after Afghan troops abandoned the country's third largest city -- Herat -- to the insurgents, as the morale of Afghanistan's security forces appeared to collapse. The government has effectively lost most of north, south and west Afghanistan in the past week, and is left holding the capital and a dwindling number of contested cities also dangerously at risk.
A major brawl broke out last week inside Kabul'sdays after the country’s interim government was announced over internal clashes on who deserves credit for the U.S. withdrawal and how the power positions were doled out, a report said.
Wednesday, citing senior Taliban officials, said the fight was between two factions that wanted to take credit for defeating the U.S.
Mulllah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban’s deputy prime minister, and Khalil ur-Rahman Haqqani, a senior leader of the Haqqani Network, "exchanged strong words, as their followers brawled with each other nearby," the BBC reported.
How is the Taliban gaining so fast in Afghanistan?
An expert on the Taliban’s sweep and what it means for Afghanistan.Over the past few days, Taliban fighters have reportedly taken over nine provincial capitals. The siege comes after a relentless, monthslong offensive in the country that has stretched Afghan government forces. Since the US began withdrawing its troops from the country at the start of May, the Taliban has swept through about half of Afghanistan’s 400 districts.
Baradar’s position is that diplomacy in Qatar carried the day while the notorious Haqqqani network insists that victory was achieved by their unrelenting willingness to fight.
Video: Anti-Taliban forces say they still hold Panjshir (Reuters)
Baradar has not been seen in public and there are rumors that he may have been killed. The Taliban have denied that the brawl ever occurred and released an unverified video claiming to show Baradar alive and well.
After the withdrawal of Western troops and the Taliban’s sudden return to power last month, the U.S. and its allies have used money, potential recognition and warnings of isolation to pressure them away from repeating their repressive rule of the 1990s. At that time, the Taliban imposed a harsh interpretation of Islamic law, including severe restrictions on women and minorities.
The Taliban have been trying to position themselves as a moderate group since taking control of Kabul after a widely criticized U.S. departure. But critics say they have done little to instill confidence in Western countries after installing what Sen. Lindsey Graham called a "lineup of thugs and butchers."
The incident, if true, would be an embarrassment for the group determined to show stability.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
Rights groups accuse Taliban of rolling back civil liberties .
Report accuses armed group of several rights violations ranging from limits on press freedom to restrictions on women.In a briefing released on Tuesday, Amnesty International, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) accused the Taliban of a number of rights violations including limits on the freedom of the press, restrictions on women and targeted killing of civilians and former government officials.