U.S. Troops To Help Evacuate Some Embassy Staff In Afghanistan As Taliban Gains Ground

WASHINGTON (AP) — Just weeks earlier than the U.S. is scheduled to finish its battle in Afghanistan, the Biden administration is speeding 3,000 contemporary troops to the Kabul airport to assist with a partial evacuation of the U.S. Embassy. The move highlights the gorgeous velocity of a Taliban takeover of a lot of the nation, together with their seize of Kandahar, the second-largest metropolis and the birthplace of the Taliban motion.

The State Department mentioned the embassy will proceed functioning, however Thursday’s dramatic resolution to herald 1000’s of extra U.S. troops is an indication of waning confidence within the Afghan authorities’s capability to carry off the Taliban surge. The announcement got here simply hours after the Taliban captured the western metropolis of Herat in addition to Ghazni, a strategic provincial capital south of Kabul. The advance, and the partial U.S. Embassy evacuation, more and more isolate the nation’s capital, home to hundreds of thousands of Afghans.

“This is not abandonment. This is not an evacuation. This is not a wholesale withdrawal,” State Department spokesman Ned Price mentioned. “What this is is a reduction in the size of our civilian footprint.”

Price rejected the concept that Thursday’s strikes despatched encouraging indicators to an already emboldened Taliban, or demoralizing ones to frightened Afghan civilians. “The message we are sending to the people of Afghanistan is one of enduring partnership,” Price insisted.

President Joe Biden, who has remained adamant about ending the 19-year U.S. mission in Afghanistan on the finish of this month regardless of the Taliban sweep, conferred with senior nationwide safety officers in a single day, then gave the order for the extra momentary troops Thursday morning.

Murals are seen along the walls at the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.



Murals are seen alongside the partitions on the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday. The U.S. additionally warned Taliban officers instantly that the U.S. would reply if the Taliban attacked Americans through the momentary U.S. army deployments.

Britain’s ministry of protection mentioned Thursday that it’s going to ship round 600 troops to Afghanistan on a short-term foundation to assist U.Ok. nationals go away the nation. And Canadian particular forces will deploy to Afghanistan to assist Canadian employees go away Kabul, a supply acquainted with the plan informed The Associated Press. That official, who was not approved to speak publicly in regards to the matter and spoke on situation of anonymity, didn’t say what number of particular forces could be despatched.

The Pentagon’s chief spokesman, John Kirby, mentioned that along with sending three infantry battalions — two from the Marine Corps and one from the Army — to the airport, the Pentagon will dispatch 3,500 to 4,000 troops from a fight brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division to Kuwait to behave as a reserve drive. He mentioned they are going to be on standby “in case we need even more” than the three,000 going to Kabul.

Also, about 1,000 Army and Air Force troops, together with army police and medical personnel, will likely be despatched to Qatar in coming days to assist a State Department effort to speed up its processing of Special Immigrant Visa functions from Afghans who as soon as labored for the U.S. authorities and really feel threated by the Taliban, Kirby mentioned.

The 3,000 troops who’re to arrive on the Kabul airport within the subsequent day or two, Kirby mentioned, are to help with safety on the airport and to assist course of the departure of embassy personnel — to not become involved within the Afghan authorities’s battle with the Taliban. Biden determined in April to finish U.S. army involvement within the battle, and the withdrawal is scheduled to be full by Aug. 31.

The U.S. had already withdrawn most of its troops, however had stored about 650 troops in Afghanistan to assist U.S. diplomatic safety, together with on the airport.

Kirby mentioned the inflow of contemporary troops doesn’t imply the U.S. is reentering fight with the Taliban.

“This is a temporary mission with a narrow focus,” he informed reporters on the Pentagon.

The viability of the U.S.-trained Afghan military, nevertheless, is wanting more and more dim. A brand new army evaluation says Kabul may come below Taliban strain as quickly as September and, if present tendencies maintain, the nation may fall to the Taliban inside just a few months.

Price, the State Department spokesman, mentioned diplomatic work will proceed on the Kabul embassy.

“Our first responsibility has always been protecting the safety and the security of our citizens serving in Afghanistan, and around the world,” Price mentioned at a briefing, calling the velocity of the Taliban advance and ensuing instability “of grave concern.”

Shortly earlier than Price’s announcement, the embassy in Kabul urged U.S. residents to depart instantly — reiterating a warning it first issued Saturday.

The newest drawdown will additional restrict the flexibility of the embassy to conduct enterprise, though Price maintained it could nonetheless have the ability to operate. Nonessential private had already been withdrawn from the embassy in April after Biden’s withdrawal announcement and it was not instantly clear what number of staffers would stay on the closely fortified compound. As of Thursday, there have been roughly 4,200 staffers on the embassy, however most of these are Afghan nationals, in line with the State Department.

Apart from a whole evacuation and shuttering of the embassy, Price mentioned different contingency plans have been being weighed, together with presumably relocating its operations to the airport.

As the employees reductions happen over the course of the following a number of weeks, Price mentioned the U.S., led by the particular envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, would proceed to push for a peace settlement between the Taliban and the Afghan authorities at talks presently happening in Doha, Qatar.

The Taliban, who dominated the nation from 1996 till U.S. forces invaded after the 9/11 assaults, have taken 12 of Afghanistan’s 34 provincial capitals as a part of a weeklong sweep that has given them efficient management of about two-thirds of the nation.

Associated Press author Rob Gillies in Toronto contributed to this report.

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