US sends troops to evacuate Afghan embassy staff

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WASHINGTON – President Biden on Thursday ordered a large deployment of troops to help evacuate staff from the U.S. Embassy in Kabul amid the Taliban’s rapid gains in Afghanistan.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said 3,000 US troops will reinforce the more than 600 US troops already working at or near the embassy. He said US officials did not want to “wait until it is too late”.

Taliban fighters stand along the road in Ghazni on August 12.
AFP via Getty Images
Zoohra, 60, holds a photo of her daughter who she says was killed by the Taliban a month ago.
Zoohra, 60, holds a photo of her daughter who she says was killed by the Taliban a month ago.
Getty Images

“This is a US decision by the Commander-in-Chief to cut civilian personnel and bring in US military personnel to help with that reduction,” Kirby said.

Another 3,500 US troops will be deployed to Kuwait as a “reserve force” and another 1,000 will go to Qatar to help process visa applications from Afghan civilians who have assisted the United States, Kirby said.

US officials believe Taliban could retake Kabul a few months after Biden’s August 31 deadline to withdraw most US troops from the country

The aftermath of a Taliban car bomb attack in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 4, 2021.
The aftermath of a Taliban car bomb attack in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 4, 2021.
Sayed Mominzadah / Xinhua via ZUMA Press

Kirby cited “the Taliban’s advances” and said “we believe it is the prudent thing to do given the rapidly deteriorating security situation in and around Kabul”.

But former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in an interview with Fox News that the embassy had already started downsizing last year and that he feared the deployment would show “a bit of panic.”

“Great strategy depends on planning and execution,” Pompeo said. “I hope they have the right number of people and can get them there quickly. I hope we can protect the Americans the way the Trump administration intended to do when we downsized there. “

PA

Pompeo said Trump made it clear to Taliban leaders that any harm to Americans would come at a high cost – even warning a senior negotiator of the consequences “for your village”.

“I was also in the room when President Trump made it very clear to Mullah Baradar, the chief Taliban negotiator, that if you threaten an American, if you scare an American and certainly if you injure an American, we will bring everything. American power to bear to make sure we went to your village, to your house. We were very clear about the things we were prepared to do to protect American lives, ”Pompeo said.

Biden took office in January with just 2,500 US troops in Afghanistan, meaning the new deployment will actually increase the number of US troops in the country in order to facilitate the withdrawal.

US troops will also help evacuate Afghans who worked for the US military and are seeking to leave the country.

Kirby said the Turkish military would continue to lead security at Kabul International Airport, but that US troops would beef them up “to make sure we have enough on hand to adapt to any eventuality.”

The military spokesman said that “the Defense Ministry has not spoken to the Taliban about this”, but that “we have said very clearly … that as in all cases, our commanders will have the right of self-defense. and any attack on our forces. will receive a prompt and appropriate response.

State Department spokesman Ned Price told a briefing that “we are further reducing our civilian footprint in Kabul … to a core diplomatic presence in the coming weeks.”

Members of the Afghan security forces participate in a military operation against Taliban militants in July.
ZUMAPRESS.com

Price would not specify how many people will be evacuated, but the Wall Street Journal reports that thousands of the 5,000 US staff at the nearby embassy and international airport will be leaving.

US troops are flying into the country to help with the evacuation after the Taliban quickly took 12 of the country’s 34 provincial capitals.

“These incoming forces, these incoming assets will be based at the airport for one reason and for one reason only, and that is to help reduce our civilian footprint,” Price said.

Price said that “this should not be read as some sort of message to the Taliban” that the United States sees the victory of the Islamic fundamentalist group as inevitable.

“It’s not an abandonment. It is not an evacuation. This is not a wholesale withdrawal. This is a reduction in the size of our civilian footprint, ”said Price. “This is a withdrawal of American civilians who, in many cases, will be able to perform their important duties elsewhere.”

Biden insisted that there would not be a humiliating Kabul surrender that would result in an iconic moment of American defeat akin to the fall of Saigon in 1975 in South Vietnam, when the Americans were transported to the hurrying by plane from the roof of the American Embassy.

“The Taliban are not the North Vietnamese army. They are not comparable in terms of capacity, ”Biden said last month.

But the Taliban have made steady progress with victories in a series of cities. On Thursday, the group invaded Herat and Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second and third largest cities, and captured Ghazni, a town 90 miles southwest of Kabul.

Biden has maintained his decision to end the 20-year US intervention in Afghanistan, which Trump triggered, arguing that the Afghan army is bigger and better armed than the Taliban. Biden said on Tuesday that “they have to fight for themselves, to fight for their nation.”

Taliban militants patrol after taking control of the governor's house and the city of Ghazni, Afghanistan, August 12, 2021.
Taliban militants patrol after taking control of the governor’s house and the city of Ghazni, Afghanistan, August 12, 2021.
EPA / ZIKRULLAH RASOOLI
Taliban militants patrol after taking control of the governor's house and the city of Ghazni, Afghanistan, August 12, 2021.
Taliban fighters have captured the strategic province of Ghazni which links the capital Kabul with other parts of southern Afghanistan, officials and insurgents said.
EPA / NAWID TANHA
Displaced Afghan children who fled their homes during the fighting take refuge in a public park
Displaced Afghan children who fled their homes during the fighting take refuge in a public park.
© Sayed Mominzadah / Xinhua via ZUMA Press

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