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1 Month Ago Today: Kabul Fell And Taliban Returned To Power

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

It was July 8, some two months ago, when President Biden recommitted to ending America's longest war.

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PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: We did not go to Afghanistan to nation build. And it's the right and the responsibility of the Afghan people alone to decide their future and how they want to run their country.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

In the weeks that followed, the Taliban moved through rural areas and pushed into major cities. Washington Post reporter Susannah George described the advances after they took control of three cities in a single day in early August.

SUSANNAH GEORGE: These advances are incredibly significant. The Taliban's sweep across Afghanistan that began not long after the final phase of the withdrawal of foreign forces began - that was in early May - it happened a lot faster than U.S. and Afghan officials were anticipating.

CHANG: It seemed like only a matter of time before the whole country would fall to Taliban control. And just a few days later, it did. On August 15, the Taliban took over the capital city of Kabul and walked back into power.

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UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #1: Major breaking news tonight - the fall of Kabul as the Taliban completes its takeover of Afghanistan.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #2: The embassy shuttered, the flag coming down.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #3: Afghans are thronging to Kabul's airport, desperate to get on planes and leave the country at any cost.

KELLY: In the days that followed, desperate Afghans fled the country. The evacuation effort has been chaotic. And today, one month after the fall of Kabul to the Taliban, most Americans are gone, and many Afghans who wanted to flee are left behind, living in fear, like Mohammed (ph). We are not using his last name because he worries about his safety. He is waiting to find out about the special immigrant visa he applied for.

MOHAMMED: It's very dangerous for me. The Taliban told me they will kill me. They will not stop. I know that.

CHANG: There's the fear of the Taliban, and other problems are mounting. New York Times reporter Matthieu Akins says the country is calmer, but the crisis is far from over.

MATTHIEU AKINS: I would just say that we're on the edge of disaster here. You know, we have long lines of people outside banks trying to take out money. We have people who are on the verge of starvation. This country had a drought this year. So if there's not urgent action taken by the world, we are going to have a massive humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. It's going to mean Afghans, you know, are going to continue to suffer, and it's going to have spillover effects into neighboring countries and, ultimately, the rest of the world. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.