The Taliban is retaking Afghanistan. Here’s how the Islamist group rebuilt and what it wants.

Taliban forces patrol a street in Herat, Afghanistan, on Aug. 14. (Reuters)
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After two decades of fighting, the Taliban has taken control of Afghanistan for the first time since 2001.

The fundamentalist force that seeks to install Islamist law blitzed across the country, overran one city after another, and entered Kabul on Sunday morning. The Taliban’s swift advance came as the United States prepared to withdraw the last of its troops, though some American soldiers were sent from elsewhere in the region to protect the U.S. Embassy and a Kabul airport over the weekend. Negotiators representing the national government were in talks with the Taliban’s political leadership Sunday about an agreement on a transitional administration. Taliban officials told Reuters there were no plans for a transitional government.

The Taliban “wants a participatory government with various components of the Afghan people,” Qari Salahuddin, the Taliban’s central security official, told Al Jazeera Arabic.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country Sunday, in a sign that the government had collapsed, and personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul were moved to the airport to “ensure they can operate safely,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday.

Scenes of chaos and panic unfolded at the Kabul airport Monday Afghans and foreigners tried to flee the country. Several people were reportedly killed.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians are fleeing, setting off a humanitarian crisis that could ripple around the globe. Those who’ve stayed are reckoning with the return of extremist rule under the Taliban’s interpretation of Islam. Militants have shuttered girls’ schools, banned smartphones in some places and forced young men to join their ranks, they say.

Afghan president flees country after Taliban enters Kabul, a sign the government has collapsed

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