Taliban Fateh fighters, a "special forces" unit, patrol along a street in Kabul on Sunday. AFP
The Taliban, Afghanistan's new rulers, and the departing US forces are aiming for a swift handover of Kabul airport as US forces are in the final phase of leaving Kabul, ending two decades of involvement in Afghanistan.
A Western security official said on Sunday that just over 1,000 civilians at the airport remain to be flown out before troops withdraw.
Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Saturday the Taliban would take over the airport "very soon" after US forces withdraw and announce a full cabinet in the coming days.
Mujahid told Reuters the group had appointed governors and police chiefs in all but one of Afghanistan's 34 provinces and would act to solve the country's economic problems.
Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid (right) listens to a question during a press conference in Kabul. AFP
The US-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001 overthrew the then-ruling Taliban as punishment for harbouring the al Qaeda militants behind the Sept. 11 attacks that year.
Meanwhile, Britain's last military flight left Kabul late on Saturday after evacuating more than 15,000 people in the two weeks since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, ending nearly 20 years of British military presence in the country.
"The final flight carrying UK Armed Forces personnel has left Kabul," Britain's Ministry of Defence said.
A Taliban official told the media "We are waiting for the final nod from the Americans to secure full control over Kabul airport."
The official also said on condition of anonymity the militants, who seized control of the capital on Aug. 15 after a lightning advance against the Western-backed government, had a team of technical experts and highly qualified engineers ready to take over the airport.
UK military personnel onboard a A400M aircraft departing Kabul, Afghanistan, on Saturday. AP
President Joe Biden has said he will stick by his deadline to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan by Tuesday.
"We want to ensure that every foreign civilian and those who are at risk are evacuated today. Forces will start flying out once this process is over," said the official, who is stationed at the airport.
A US official told the local media reporters that there were fewer than 4,000 troops left at the airport, down from 5,800 at the peak of the evacuation mission.
US President Joe Biden pauses as he speaks about the bombings at the Kabul airport in Washington. File/AP
Britain on Friday had said its evacuation mission would end within hours and that its military would be unable to fly out any Afghan citizens eligible for resettlement who had not already entered Kabul airport.
"We should be proud of our armed forces, welcoming to those coming for a better life and sad for those left behind," Defence Minister Ben Wallace said after the final British flight.
More than 70,000 people have already been evacuated, but huge crowds remain outside Kabul airport hoping to flee the threat of reprisals and repression in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.
Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai also defended the Taliban's role in recent bloodshed across the country after US President Donald Trump cited an attack that killed an American soldier as his reason for calling off negotiations earlier this month.
According to a pool report from a journalist accompanying Pompeo, the top US diplomat was welcomed by special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad — the lead US negotiator in recent talks with the Taliban — after arriving at Kabul airport.
The envoy, Afghan-born Zalmay Khalilzad, the architect of a February agreement with the Taliban clearing the way for a US troop withdrawal, met Taliban leaders in Doha on Wednesday, hours after meeting government leaders in Kabul.
The convoy arrived in the Gaza Strip through the Rafah Border Crossing, and is the largest medical support of its kind provided by the UAE to Gaza since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Dr. Khalid Omar Al Midfa discussed challenges of the media industry with attendees at the meeting, exploring ways to expand the sector’s role in the UAE’s development.
Fuelled by the fast-spreading Omicron variant, infections exploded during the past four weeks, with around two million cases recorded.
Thick fog continued to form for the second day in a row across various parts in the country on Thursday. The fog lasted for 12 hours and a half in several areas of the country on Thursday, as it started at exactly 10 pm and continued until 10:30am, because of the country being affected by surface high-pressure systems, accompanied with a ridge of upper air high pressure, according to the National Centre for Meteorology (NCM).