WASHINGTON (AP) – With rapidly deteriorating security in Afghanistan, the United States is evacuating personnel from the U.S. embassy in Kabul, and U.S. troops will provide assistance at Kabul airport, officials said on Thursday.
The decision to downsize the embassy was announced by State Department spokesman Ned Price. He said diplomatic work will continue at the embassy.
US troops are being brought into Afghanistan to provide additional ground and air support for the treatment and security of Americans sent to Kabul airport, said a US official who requested anonymity to discuss military details that do not had not yet been communicated. Public.
The move suggests a lack of confidence from the Biden administration in the Afghan government’s ability to provide sufficient diplomatic security in the capital as the Taliban mount an offensive that has quickly taken over key cities in recent days.
The Pentagon had kept around 650 troops in Afghanistan to support US diplomatic security, including at the airport. The official said an unspecified additional number of troops, as well as planes, were to be brought in to help with the embassy’s withdrawal.
Afghan government forces collapse even faster than US military leaders believed possible just a few months ago, when President Joe Biden ordered a full withdrawal.
The Taliban, who ruled the country from 1996 until the invasion of US forces after the 9/11 attacks, captured three other provincial capitals on Wednesday and two more on Thursday, the 10th and 11th that insurgents took in a sweep. of a week that gave them effective control of about two-thirds of the country. The insurgents do not have an air force and outnumber the US-trained Afghan Defense Force, but they have captured territory, including the country’s third largest city, Herat, in amazing speed.
In a new warning to Americans in Afghanistan, the second since Saturday, the US embassy in Kabul on Thursday again urged US citizens to leave immediately. The notice was released amid growing discussions in Washington over further downsizing the embassy’s already limited staff.
The United States continues to support the Afghan army with limited airstrikes, but these have not made a strategic difference so far and are expected to end when the United States officially ends its role in the war on August 31. Biden could continue the airstrikes beyond that date. , but given his firm stance on ending the war, that seems unlikely.
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The most recent US military assessment, taking into account the latest Taliban gains, indicates Kabul could be under pressure from insurgents by September and the country could fall entirely under Taliban control within months, according to a defense official who discussed the internal analysis. Wednesday on condition of anonymity.
Military officials watching the situation deteriorate said the Taliban had so far taken no action to threaten Kabul. But it’s not clear whether the Taliban will wait until they have taken control of most of the country before attempting to capture the capital.
The security of the U.S. diplomatic corps has been the subject of discussion for months, even before the Taliban’s battlefield blitz. The military has long had a variety of planning options for evacuating personnel from Afghanistan. These options would largely be determined by the White House and the State Department.
A key part of the options would be whether the US military would have unrestricted access to Kabul International Airport, allowing personnel to systematically leave the capital by air. In a darker environment, US forces might have to fight their way if the Taliban infiltrated the city.
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