Taliban militants laugh as they pose in gold thrones in seized mansion
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Taliban militants have filmed themselves swanning around in the lavish palace of a US ally ahead of Afghanistan's capital Kabul being invaded.
In the clip, members of the Islamic organisation sit smugly in the oversized golden chairs that belong to former vice president General Rashid Dostum, who assisted the US Special Forces and the CIA in trying to topple the Islamist group.
His mansion, in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, around 400km northwest of Kabul, was overrun by insurgents, Mirror Online reports.
One of the men is laughing as he films his comrades making themselves at home in the mansion.
He then pans around to show the opulent decor and a giant chandelier hanging from the ceiling.
The 67-year-old was Vice President of Afghanistan between 2014 and February last year and has previously survived multiple Taliban assassination attempts.
The city fell to the Taliban yesterday, and this morning (August 15) officials confirmed that insurgents had entered capital Kabul, where thousands of families have fled to in recent days fearful of a return to horrific violence.
Yesterday Atta Mohammad Noor, the former governor of Balkh province, said both he and Dostum were safe and blamed the fall of the city on a "conspiracy".
"Despite our firm resistance, sadly, all the government and the #ANDSF equipments were handed over to the #Taliban as a result of a big organised & cowardly plot," Noor wrote on Twitter.
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"They had orchestrated the plot to trap Marshal Dostum and myself too, but they didn't succeed."
The Taliban claims it is negotiating the "peaceful surrender" of its opponents in Kabul and called on citizens not to flee.
But the Afghan Presidential palace says it is still in control of the city, stating on Twitter that gunshots had been hard at several points today.
Earlier today the Islamist group seized the eastern city of Jalalabad without a fight, narrowing the area controlled by the crumbling government.
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The US has started evacuating its diplomats and was sending more troops to help secure Kabul airport and the embassy after the Taliban's lightning advances.
US officials said the diplomats were being ferried to the airport from the embassy in the fortified Wazir Akbar Khan district.
More American troops were being sent to help in the evacuations after the Taliban's lightning advances brought the Islamist group to Kabul in a matter of days.
Just last week, a US intelligence estimate said Kabul could hold out for at least three months.
"We have a small batch of people leaving now as we speak, a majority of the staff are ready to leave," a U.S. official said. "The embassy continues to function."
No progress has been made during peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, backed by the US.
It comes after US President Joe Biden announced in April that American troops would withdraw from the country in a process that began in May and will conclude in September.
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