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Exclusive: US Embassy sent alert on Ghani before Taliban took Kabul

The city of Kabul, once bustling, is now quiet as Taliban fighters patrol the streets and insist people are "happy."
Afghanistan
Posted at 9:38 PM, Aug 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-16 21:41:00-04

There's chaos at the international airport in Kabul as a new day begins for Afghans – under Taliban rule again after 20 years. 

Some are so desperate to leave the country, they're hanging off U.S. military aircraft. In the end, seven people were reported dead — several, after falling from that plane. 

American officials on the ground knew chaos was about to unfold. Newsy exclusively obtained the last cable from the U.S. embassy in Kabul, sent Saturday – before the Taliban had taken the capital.  

Staff were aware Afghan President Ashraf Ghani might flee the country. Embassy workers were moving to the airport for evacuation, while Afghans still held out hope the city would be defended, crucial hours lost. 

Ghani's departure came Sunday, ensuring the country's collapse. 

The city of Kabul, once bustling, is now quiet as Taliban fighters patrol the streets and insist people are "happy." 

The Taliban just entered to Kabul.   

Worse and worst dangerous situation here in Kabul too. 

An Afghan interpreter whose image we blurred for safety tried to escape, telling us people were rushing to get passports until they saw Taliban fighters.  

The Defense Department says about 6,000 U.S. troops will assist in the frantic evacuation – this, after the U.S. withdrawal was nearly complete. 

Lisa Curtis, who was involved in negotiations between the U.S. and the Taliban under then-President Trump, says diplomatic failures began a year and half ago in the wake of a weak agreement.  

She said, "What I mostly disagreed with was forcing the Ghani government to release 5000 Taliban prisoners before the Taliban was even really invested in a peace process with the Afghans. I think that undermined Ghani. And I think we also probably see at least many of these five thousand Taliban prisoners now part of the campaign to take over the country militarily."

After sending the cable, personnel at the U.S. embassy have fully evacuated, leaving the Taliban free to raid the compound. 

This story was originally reported by Sasha Ingber on Newsy.com.