In pictures: Afghanistan at a crossroads


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NEW YORK – The situation in Afghanistan remains turbulent as the United States prepares to complete the withdrawal of its combat forces by the August 31 deadline set by President Joe Biden last month.

A day after US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken reiterated continued engagement with Afghanistan despite the withdrawal, an explosion and gunfire struck near the green zone of Kabul. Meanwhile, the Taliban continued to make gains in their offensive across the country.

Here are some scenes from Kabul to the besieged southern province of Helmand in Washington.

© AP

Afghan security personnel respond to a large explosion that rocked Kabul early Tuesday morning. The explosion occurred near the city’s green zone, which is home to embassies and senior government officials.

© AP

Afghan Special Forces patrol the southern province of Helmand. The Taliban reportedly captured nine of the ten districts of the provincial capital of Lakshar Gah on Tuesday. The fall of the city would mark a turning point in the current Taliban offensive.

© Reuters

An Afghan policeman guards a checkpoint on the outskirts of Kabul in July. The Taliban continue to make gains across the country, but may seek to negotiate a new government before launching a campaign to seize the capital.

© Reuters

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, in the middle of three marches, arrives at the parliament in Kabul on Monday. The Taliban demand to negotiate a new government in Kabul as well as the dismissal of Ghani.

© AP

Members of the Afghan parliament listen to Ghani’s speech on Monday. A Taliban spokesperson said women will be allowed to work, attend school and participate in politics, but will be required to wear headwear.

© Reuters

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken addresses growing concerns over a refugee crisis at a press conference in Washington on Monday, saying the United States is expanding its Afghan refugee program.

(Xinhua via AP)

Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, left, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi meet on July 28 in Tianjin, China. Ties between China and the Taliban have strengthened following the US withdrawal as Beijing seeks to bring the security situation in its southwest neighbor under control.

© AP

Afghan Army Special Forces attend a graduation ceremony in July. The United States has provided Afghanistan with approximately $ 4 billion in security assistance per year, and the United States and NATO have pledged to continue this funding until 2024.

© AP

An Afghan soldier plays the guitar after the departure of US forces from Bagram Airfield in July. Bagram has been the hub of the US mission in Afghanistan for almost 20 years.

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