Updated on: Tuesday, August 17, 2021, 02:47 PM IST

With Afghanistan back under Taliban control, here's a timeline of the decades-long conflict

Taliban fighters take control of Afghan presidential palace after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 15, 2021 | Photo Credit: AP

Taliban fighters take control of Afghan presidential palace after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 15, 2021 | Photo Credit: AP


The Taliban swept into Kabul on Sunday after President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, bringing an end to a two-decade campaign in which the US and its allies had tried to transform Afghanistan. The insurgents stormed across the country, capturing all major cities in a matter of days, as Afghan security forces trained and equipped by the US and its allies melted away.

Meanwhile, thousands of Afghans rushed onto the tarmac of Kabul's international airport Monday, so desperate to escape the Taliban capture of their country that they held onto an American military jet as it took off and plunged to death in the chaos that killed at least seven people.

The crowds of people rushing the airport came as the Taliban enforced their rule over the wider capital after a lightning advance across the country that took just over a week to dethrone the country's Western-backed government.

Here is a timeline of the conflict:

1994 —The Taliban emerge in southern Kandahar, take over the province and set up a rule adhering to a strict interpretation of Islam.

1996 — The Taliban take control of Afghanistan after emerging as the strongest faction in the civil war. The Taliban capture Kabul after sweeping across the country with hardly a fight; Northern Alliance forces retreat north toward the Panjshir Valley. The Taliban hang Najibullah and his brother.

1996-2001 — Though initially welcomed for ending the fighting, the Taliban rule with a heavy hand under Mullah Mohammed Omar, imposing strict Islamic edicts.

March 2001 — The Taliban dynamite the world's largest standing Buddha statues in Bamyan province, to global shock.

September 2001 — After 9/11 attacks, Washington gives Mullah Omar an ultimatum: hand over bin Laden and dismantle militant training camps or prepare to be attacked. The Taliban leader refuses.

Oct. 7, 2001 — A U.S.-led coalition launches an invasion of Afghanistan.

Nov. 13, 2001 — The Taliban flee Kabul for Kandahar as the U.S.-led coalition marches into the Afghan capital with the Northern Alliance.

2015-2018 — The Taliban surge further, staging near-daily attacks targeting Afghan and U.S. forces and seizing nearly half the country. An Islamic State group affiliate emerges in the east.

February 29, 2020 — The U.S. and the Taliban sign a deal in Doha, Qatar, setting a timetable for the withdrawal of the around 13,000 U.S. troops still in Afghanistan and committing the insurgents to halt attacks on Americans.

September 12, 2020-February 2021 — After months of delay, Taliban-Afghan government negotiations open in Qatar, sputter for several sessions and finally stall with no progress. Ashraf Ghani refuses proposals for a unity government, while the Taliban balk at a cease-fire with the government.

April 14, 2021 — President Joe Biden says the remaining 2,500-3,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan will be withdrawn by Sept. 11 to end America's “forever war.”

May 4, 2021 — In three weeks since President Joe Biden’s announcement, the Taliban launched a major offensive in seven provinces, including the southern Helmand province.

July 2, 2021 — The US forces pulled out from Bagram Air Base, signalling their exit from the conflict. The transfer of Bagram, the heart of the US military's presence in Afghanistan throughout the war, signalled that the complete pullout of American troops is imminent, expected within days, far ahead of Biden's Sept. 11 timetable.

August 15, 2021 — President Ashraf Ghani fled the country and the Taliban took over the capital of Kabul. Later, chaos prevailed as several hundreds of citizens tried to leave the country through the only airport not under the Taliban’s control.

(With inputs from Associated Press)

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Published on: Tuesday, August 17, 2021, 02:47 PM IST