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On the eve of the U.S. invasion in 2001, a top Taliban diplomat issued a warning: “Afghanistan is a swamp. People enter here laughing, are exiting injured.”

The U.S., which soon afterward ousted the Taliban from Kabul in a matter of weeks, is now racing to evacuate the capital after the militant group seized control of it Sunday much faster than anyone predicted. Chaotic scenes gripped the airport on Monday, with reports of several deaths among the swarming crowds a day after President Ashraf Ghani fled the country.

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