Escape from Kabul: Diplomats flee US Embassy in Chinook helicopters as Taliban fighters close in

This is the moment US diplomats are seen being evacuated from Kabul as the Taliban close in on the Afghan capital. 

A twin-rotor helicopter – believed to be a US Air Force Chinook – was seen taking off from the US Embassy earlier today.

It comes as the US is stepping up its evacuation of the city as Taliban fighters move in.

Shots have been heard on the outskirts of the capital today.

As many as 10,000 US citizens are being evacuated from the city. Around 3,000 US troops are being sent to aid the evacuation. 

A double rotor helicopter - believed to be a US Air Force Chinook - was seen taking off from the US Embassy earlier today

A double rotor helicopter - believed to be a US Air Force Chinook - was seen taking off from the US Embassy earlier today

A double rotor helicopter – believed to be a US Air Force Chinook – was seen taking off from the US Embassy earlier today

As the Taliban advance continues, following the decision by the US to pull out, gunfire was today heard near the presidential palace in Kabul.

The militants were seen in the districts of Kalakan, Qarabagh and Paghman hours after taking control of Jalalabad, the last major Afghan city to fall to the insurgents.

The terror group said in a statement they do not intend to take the capital ‘by force’ after entering the outskirts of the city.

An Afghan official earlier confirmed Jalalabad fell under Taliban control without a fight early Sunday morning when the governor surrendered, saying it was ‘the only way to save civilian lives.’

Its fall has also given the Taliban control of a road leading to the Pakistan city of Peshawar, one of the main highways into landlocked Afghanistan.

Jalalabad is close to the Pakistani border and just 80 miles from Kabul – the Afghanistan capital home to more than four million people and currently the only remaining major city still under government control.

Besides Kabul, just seven other provincial capitals out of the country’s 34 are yet to fall to the Taliban.

Concerns are mounting over how long Kabul can stave off the Taliban insurgents as they have captured the northern stronghold of Mazar-i-Sharif, the second-largest city Kandahar and third-largest city Herat all within the last 48 hours.

The Taliban are now closing in on the capital from all sides, controlling territories to the North, South, East and West and advancing to just seven miles south of the city. 

The Taliban is now closing in on the capital of Kabul from all sides, now controlling territories in the north, south, east and west

The Taliban is now closing in on the capital of Kabul from all sides, now controlling territories in the north, south, east and west

The Taliban is now closing in on the capital of Kabul from all sides, now controlling territories in the north, south, east and west

A Taliban fighter sits inside an Afghan National Army (ANA) vehicle along the roadside in Laghman province on Sunday

A Taliban fighter sits inside an Afghan National Army (ANA) vehicle along the roadside in Laghman province on Sunday

A Taliban fighter sits inside an Afghan National Army (ANA) vehicle along the roadside in Laghman province on Sunday 

Taliban fighters drive the vehicle through the streets of Laghman province Sunday - the same day Jalalabad fell

Taliban fighters drive the vehicle through the streets of Laghman province Sunday - the same day Jalalabad fell

Taliban fighters drive the vehicle through the streets of Laghman province Sunday – the same day Jalalabad fell 

Hoda Ahmadi, a lawmaker from Logar province, told The Associated Press that the Taliban have reached the Char Asyab district on the outskirts of the capital, which was gripped by blackouts, communications outages and street fighting overnight Saturday as the country descends into chaos.

A US defense official has warned it could be only a matter of days before the insurgent fighters take control of Kabul. Just last week, US intelligence estimates expected the city to be able to hold out for at least three months. 

A senior US official told the New York Times the Taliban have warned the US it must cease airstrikes or else its extremist fighters will move in on US buildings.

Joe Biden has vowed that any action that puts Americans at risk ‘will be met with a swift and strong US military response.’

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