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Taliban fighters guarding a street in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Aug. 16. Photo: Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images

The Taliban has declared victory in Afghanistan after seizing most of Kabul Sunday, forcing Ashraf Ghani to flee the country and the evacuation of the U.S. Embassy.

Why it matters: The U.S.'s exit from the country was the opposite of the orderly withdrawal that President Biden had promised when he announced the full military withdrawal earlier this year.

  • Thousands of Afghans who aided U.S. and coalition forces have yet to be evacuated from the country.
  • The Biden administration is still attempting to find countries to temporarily house Afghans who risk retaliation from the Taliban if they stay in the country.

What they're saying:

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.): "The Taliban must know the world is watching its actions. We are concerned about reports regarding the Taliban’s brutal treatment of all Afghans, especially women and girls."
  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.): "The Biden Administration’s botched exit from Afghanistan including the frantic evacuation of Americans and vulnerable Afghans from Kabul is a shameful failure of American leadership. The United States had the capacity to avoid this disaster."
  • House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.): "There will be much analysis of our Afghanistan experience, but right now, I am gravely concerned for the safety of our Afghan partners who served side-by-side with our troops, our diplomats, our development professionals, and our partner forces to carry out our mission."
  • House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.): "What will unfold in Afghanistan will be a humanitarian crisis. The regime that is taking power is one that routinely violates human rights, particularly the rights of women."
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.): "Foreign policy matters: After 20 years of U.S. effort, the loss of 2,448 soldiers and a trillion spent, Afghanistan was left with a corrupt government and an ineffectual military.  At this moment, we must do everything we can to evacuate our allies and open our doors to refugees."
  • Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.): "To say that today is anything short of a disaster would be dishonest. Worse, it was avoidable. The time to debate whether we stay in Afghanistan has passed, but there is still time to debate how we manage our retreat."
  • Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.): "[O]ur top priorities must be the safety of American diplomats and other citizens in Afghanistan, and the extraction of Afghans who are at greatest risk, including those who bravely fought alongside our forces since 2001. The world must know that the United States stands by her friends in times of need, and this is one of those times."
  • Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.): "The mission at this point ought to be simple: bolster American troops and firepower until we can get flights running around the clock. The Taliban must not dictate when every last American, our courageous Afghan partners, and their families are off the tarmac.”

The big picture: Biden blamed former President Trump for the Taliban's rapid conquest of the country, saying he empowered the militant group and left them "in the strongest position militarily since 2001." He added, however, that he had to make a choice and that he would not pass on the war to a "fifth" U.S. president.

  • The U.S. and over 60 countries issued a joint statement Sunday saying Afghans and international citizens who wish to leave the country should be allowed to do so, with airports and border crossings remaining open.

Go deeper: In photos: Scenes from Afghanistan after the Taliban takes control

Editor's note: This story will be updated with additional comments.

Go deeper

Oct 14, 2021 - World

Pakistan Airlines halts flights to Kabul citing "heavy-handedness" of Taliban

Passengers board a Pakistan International Airlines flight in Kabul on Sept 13. Photo: Aamir Qureshi/AFP via Getty Images

Pakistan International Airlines on Thursday halted flights to Kabul after what it called "heavy-handedness" of Taliban authorities, Reuters reports.

Driving the news: The suspension comes after the Taliban ordered PIA to slash ticket prices, warning that the company's Afghan operations could be blocked if it refused to do so, per Reuters.

Updated Oct 16, 2021 - World

Islamic State claims responsibility for deadly bombing in southern Afghanistan

The mosque after the explosion in southern Kandahar province on Oct. 15. Photo: Murteza Khaliqi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a massive blast that tore through a crowded Shiite mosque in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar on Friday, killing at least 47 people and injuring dozens more, AP reports.

Why it matters: Friday's attack was the deadliest to strike Afghanistan since the U.S. withdrew its troops from the region and is the second major attack on a Shiite mosque in a week, underscoring the Taliban's growing security threat from other militant groups.

U.S. elected to rejoin UN Human Rights Council after exit under Trump

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. has been elected to rejoin on the UN Human Rights Council, the State Department announced Thursday, three years after former President Trump walked out on the panel citing bias against Israel.

Flashback: The Biden administration announced in February it planned to rejoin the council, acknowledging what it called an "unacceptable bias against Israel," but arguing that being a member would help the U.S. advance its own interests.