The next day, Taliban forces enter Kabul, and Ghani flees the country, signaling the collapse of the government. Nine days after seizing its first provincial capital, the group appears to have taken control of virtually the entire nation. As countries scramble to evacuate people from the Kabul airport, Secretary of State Antony Blinken defends the U.S. withdrawal. “The president made the determination that it was time to end this war for the United States, to get out of the middle of a civil war in Afghanistan and to make sure that we were looking at our interests across the world,” he says on ABC News. Blinken says U.S. Embassy personnel in the fortified Green Zone are being relocated to the Kabul airport for safety reasons. Night settles in Kabul, and Taliban fighters mill about in the presidential palace. They sit behind what was Ghani’s desk just a few hours earlier and cluster in a room that looked set up for negotiations. As the world watches, a member of the Taliban takes down the flag of Afghanistan hanging within the palace walls, rolls it up and sets it to the side.