Five die in scramble to escape Kabul: US troops guarding embassy staff evacuation fire into the air as desperate Afghans stampede the runway to force their way onto flights evacuating US embassy staff
- US troops took up defensive positions at the airport today, firing shots into the air to disperse the crowds
- At least five people were killed in the chaos – it is not clear whether they were killed in a stampede or gunfire
- US official said the troops opened fire to deter people forcing their way onto plane filled with US diplomats
- Video footage showed desperate civilians trying to clamber onto one of the last planes out of the country
- The State Department confirmed late Sunday that all of its citizens had been rushed to Hamid Karzai Airport
- Chaos comes after Taliban marched victorious into Kabul on Sunday after US and Nato’s hasty retreat
- Taliban’s blistering advance is a humiliation for Washington and Joe Biden is yet to address the public
- WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT:
Five people have died at Kabul airport where U.S. troops today fired into the air to deter people from forcing their way onto a flight as thousands of Afghans poured onto the runway in a desperate bid to escape the Taliban.
Footage showed three stowaways falling to their deaths after clinging to the wheels of a military plane as it took off from Hamid Karzai International Airport.
Other video showed hundreds chasing after a USAF C-17 transport jet as it hurtled down the runway, and other pictures showed a crowd running alongside and in front of another American jet as it prepared for takeoff.
U.S. soldiers earlier fired warning shots into the air to deter people from forcing their way onto a military flight that was due to evacuate American diplomats and embassy staff out of the fallen city.
‘The crowd was out of control,’ a U.S. official told Reuters. ‘The firing was only done to defuse the chaos.’
One witness, waiting for a flight out for more than 20 hours, said it was unclear if the five had been shot or killed in a stampede. U.S. officials at the airport were not immediately available for a comment.
The chaos, reminiscent of the evacuation from Saigon in 1975, comes after the Taliban declared victory from the presidential palace on Sunday following a blistering advance across the country after a hasty U.S. retreat.
One of the terror chieftains claimed proudly, ‘Praise God, I was in Guantanamo for eight years’, as he sat at the president’s table surrounded by henchmen strapped with AK-47s.
President Joe Biden has yet to speak publicly about the humiliating foreign policy disaster which looks set to become a defining feature of his legacy.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday that the U.S. decision to withdraw had ‘accelerated’ the crisis.
The Taliban has sought to calm fears that any foreign citizens or embassy staff will come to harm as it seeks formal recognition from the international community.
Almost all major checkpoints in Kabul were under Taliban control by Monday morning and Afghanistan’s Civil Aviation Authority issued an advisory saying the ‘civilian side’ of the airport had been ‘closed until further notice’ and that the military controlled the airspace.
Taliban officials said everyone would be allowed to return home from Kabul airport if they decide to stay in the country and promised civilians would not be harmed. The group previously said westerners would be allowed to leave the country but that Afghans would be barred from departing.
US troops are guarding the airport and have taken over air traffic control, but all non-military flights are grounded. Early Monday morning, flight-tracking data showed no immediate commercial flights over the country.
The last U.S. officials were flying out of the country today as:
- Taliban fighters were seen patrolling the streets of Kabul as thousands of hopeful Afghans gathered on the runway at Hamid Karzai airport trying desperately to escape from Afghanistan;
- German Chancellor Angela Merkel said troops would be deployed to Afghanistan to evacuate German citizens and Afghans in danger from the Taliban;
- The US ambassador and embassy staff fled Afghanistan after Taliban forces stormed Kabul;
- President Biden ordered about 5,000 troops to help evacuate US staff ‘and other allied personnel’;
- PM Boris Johnson said said the US decision to withdraw from Afghanistan had ‘accelerated’ the crisis;
- British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was forced to return to the UK from his holiday abroad;
- Tory MPs called fallout from Anglo-US withdrawal ‘Britain’s worst foreign policy disaster since Suez’;
- MPs are expected to to vent their anger and frustration when they return to Westminster on Wednesday for an emergency recall of Parliament to discuss the crisis;
- President Biden defended the withdrawal of US troops and blamed his predecessor Donald Trump for a deal that left the warlords ‘in the strongest position militarily since 2001’;
- US Secretary of State Antony Blinken insisted the scene in Afghanistan is not comparable to the fall of Saigon as he diverted blame for the Taliban takeover on Republicans.
Footage from Hamad Karzai airport showed hundreds of people running alongside – and in front of – a US Air Force plane preparing to take off
Thousands of civilians rush towards one of the last military planes leaving Kabul (left) the airport was teeming with desperate civilians trying to flee the Taliban (right)
US troops are guarding the airport and have taken over air traffic control, but all non-military flights are grounded. Soldiers fired warning shots in the air to prevent hundreds of civilians running onto the tarmac, a US official said
US troops fired shots into the air at Kabul airport today as desperate Afghans climbed up the outside of airbridges trying to flee as the Taliban took control of Afghanistan
Video posted social media showed hundreds of people trying to climb the outside of airbridges to board commercial liners grounded in Hamad Karzai airport
At least five people have been killed at Kabul airport as thousands of people tried desperately to get on flights out of Afghanistan amid increasingly chaotic scenes. Witnesses said it was not clear whether the victims were killed by gunshots or in a stampede
US troops fired shots in the air at Hama Karzai airport to prevent hundreds of civilians running onto the tarmac after they took control of the airport in Kabul and the country’s air traffic control
US troops are guarding the airport and have taken over air traffic control, but all non-military flights are grounded. Early Monday morning, flight-tracking data showed no immediate commercial flights over the country even as thousands of Afghans flooded Kabul airport
The US Embassy has been evacuated and the American flag lowered, with diplomats relocating to the airport in scenes reminiscent of the evacuation of the embassy of Saigon in 1975. Other Western countries have also closed their missions and are flying out staff and civilians after the Taliban walked into Kabul’s presidential palace
In a stunning rout, the Taliban seized nearly all of Afghanistan in just over a week, despite the billions of dollars spent by the US and NATO over nearly two decades to build up Afghan security forces
Desperate Afghans were seen chasing US military C-17s as the evacuation flights took off from Kabul airport on Monday
US soldiers take up their positions as they secure the airport in Kabul after the Taliban walked into the capital, forcing President Ashraf Ghani to flee
Thousands of Afghans gathered at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai airport, but all commercial services have been suspended, with only military flights leaving the country as the UK, US and other western countries repatriate their citizens
US military Appache helicopters were seen flying low over Kabul airport on Monday as troops tried to control crowds of thousands of Afghans desperate to escape the country after the Taliban takeover
The scene at Kabul airport, as civilians hoping to be evacuated crowd onto the tarmac
There were chaotic scenes at Kabul International Airport on Sunday night as thousands of Afghan residents rushed onto the tarmac
Security appeared to be non-existent as those desperate to leave rushed onto the tarmac outside of the terminal buildings
There were scenes of pure chaos on the ground outside the airport buildings as people fled together with their suitcases
Potential passengers can be seen crowding the tarmac at Kabul airport in Afghanistan with people desperate to leave the country any way they can
A U.S. Chinook helicopter flies near the U.S. Embassy as smoke rises in Kabul, Afghanistan, late on Sunday night
New videos show panicked mobs swarming Kabul International Airport Sunday, as hundreds try frantically to flee the besieged Afghan capital as Taliban forces move in
Thousands of people can be seen at the airport as more crowd inside the terminal
Afghanistan was thrown into turmoil Sunday as Taliban forces seized the capital following the withdrawal of US troops for the first time since 2001
Crowds are seen at Kabul airport as part of a desperate exodus after the extremist Islamic militants took over the city
The House House released an image of Biden on a briefing call at Camp David with the caption: ‘This morning, the President and Vice President met with their national security team and senior officials to hear updates on the draw down of our civilian personnel in Afghanistan, evacuations of SIV applicants and other Afghan allies, and the ongoing security situation in Kabul’
Lights are on at the U.S. Embassy buildings after nightfall, in Kabul, Afghanistan on Sunday
Smoke rises next to the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, late Sunday
A US Air Force helicopter was seen taking off from the US embassy Sunday
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told US senators Sunday morning that the sudden collapse of the Afghan government means terror groups like Al Qaeda could grow stronger in Afghanistan far sooner than the two years Congress had previously estimated it would take them to become a threat.
He conceded that the prediction also raised the possibility of a domestic attack in the US, or on one of its allies. Milley said up to 60,000 refugees could qualify for Special Immigrant Visas as a result of Iran’s collapse.
The Pentagon has now authorized 6,000 US troops to Afghanistan to help with the evacuation, officials confirmed to Reuters Foreign Policy Correspondent Idrees Ali on Sunday, an increase from the original 5,000 that President Joe Biden said we be heading to the area.
Biden has set an August 31 deadline for the competition of the withdrawal. The Pentagon estimates that 30,000 people will need to be evacuated in this process.
Video shared on social media Sunday shows people in Kabul rushing towards the airport.
Biden also attributed the current situation in Afghanistan to his predecessor, Donald Trump, who he said ‘left the Taliban in the strongest military position since 2001′ and blamed him for the militants’ swift takeover of most of Afghanistan upon the US troop withdrawal.
According to a memo from the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan, which was shared on Twitter by Wall Street Journal reporter Dion Nissenbaum, Americans have been ordered to shelter in place while the Kabul airport takes fire
In a scene mirroring that of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam war, a US Air Force helicopter was seen taking off from the US embassy earlier Sunday. The Chinook helicopter rose to the skies above the city – just like in 1975 when a US Marine helicopter was seen evacuating embassy staff from Vietnamese capital.
Smoke rose from near to the US Embassy earlier Sunday as security staff work to destroy any important documents, including CIA information, electronic devices, or material that could be used ‘in propaganda efforts’.
‘Please also include items with Embassy or agency logos, Americans flags, or items which could be misused in propaganda efforts,’ the notice said.
According told CNN, US Senators were briefed by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley Sunday as the situation in Afghanistan continues to unfold.
The Senate was informed that as many as 60,000 people could possibly qualify as Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders or applicants, P1 and P2 visa holders, or others like human rights defenders.
Scene at the Kabul airport on Sunday. Video showed chaotic crowds of people attempting to board flights.
Smoke was seen rising from near to the US embassy earlier Sunday as security staff work to burn any important documents, including CIA information, or material that could be used ‘in propaganda efforts’. The US flag is soon expected to be lowered, signaling the official closure of the embassy
US Ambassador Ross Wilson is said to have evacuated the embassy in Kabul on Sunday
Meanwhile, a Taliban official says they will soon declare the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan from the presidential palace in Kabul.
US Intelligence officials expected Kabul to hold out for three months, while UK ministers were hoping they had until the end of the month.
Leaders of the extremist group have Sunday demanded the Afghan government surrender the city to them in a bid to avoid bloodshed – adding the chilling warning ‘we’ve not declared a ceasefire’.
As many as 10,000 US citizens are being evacuated from the city. Around 3,000 US troops are being sent to aid the mission.
According to Biden, he and his security team made the decision in an effort to ‘protect our interests and values as we end our military mission in Afghanistan.’
Government leaders are trying to ensure an ‘orderly and safe drawdown of U.S. personnel and other allied personnel’ and an ‘orderly and safe evacuation of Afghans who helped our troops during our mission and those at special risk from the Taliban advance’.
The president says the U.S. government is also actively working to ‘process, transport, and relocate Afghan Special Immigrant Visa applicants and other Afghan allies’.
There are also fears about the safety of thousands of translators who are concerned they may be viewed as ‘traitors’ by the extremist Taliban.
It is understood the plan is to evacuate the translators and their families, though there are concerns that the efforts may be hampered if fighters quickly reach Kabul airport.
Taliban Sunday demanded foreigners who don’t leave to register their presence with Taliban administrators in the coming days. While western countries such as the US and UK have opted to evacuate staff, Russia Sunday confirmed that it did not intend to evacuate its embassy staff in Kabul.
A twin-rotor US Air Force Chinook was seen taking off from the US Embassy earlier Sunday, as the evacuation efforts rapidly pick up pace
The Chinook helicopter was seen taking to the skies above the city – just like in 1975 when a US Marine helicopter was seen evacuating embassy staff from Vietnamese capital (pictured)
The US Embassy in Kabul has been ordered to destroy sensitive materials and evacuate as Taliban fighters move in on the capital
Anti-missile decoy flares are deployed as U.S. Black Hawk military helicopters and a dirigible balloon fly over the city of Kabul, Afghanistan
The US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan has been the intelligence hub of the US’s war on terror
Special Forces units are joining 600 British troops from the 16 Air Assault Brigade, including 150 Paratroopers, to begin airlifting more than 500 British Government employees out of Kabul. Pictured: Members of Joint Forces Headquarters get prepared to deploy to Afghanistan
The Taliban is now closing in on the capital of Kabul from all sides, now controlling territories in the north, south, east and west
The UK Government says it aims to get British ambassador Sir Laurie Bristow (pictured) and his embassy staff out by Sunday night – amid fears the Taliban could seize Kabul airport within days
The Fall of Saigon – 1975
Pictures showing US embassy officials being evacuated from Kabul are almost the mirror image of those taken during the ‘Fall of Saigon’ in 1975.
Also known as the ‘Liberation of Saigon’ by the North Vietnamese, the event saw the People’s Army of Vietnam and the Viet Kong capture the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon – now called Ho Chi Min city.
During the offensive, US officials were told to evacuate the city.
But because of continuing rocket fire on the nearby runways, US officials urged that any evacuation must take place by helicopter.
So began Operation Frequent Wind, officially declared by the US radio stations putting Irving Berlin’s White Christmas on repeat – the signal for US staff to begin evacuation.
The embassy evacuation managed to fly out 978 Americans and about 1,100 Vietnamese citizens.
Ambassador Graham Martin was flown out to the USS Blue Ridge, where he pleaded for helicopters to return to the embassy.
His pleas were overruled, though many locals were still rescued by sea and boats after.
Saigon was later turned over to the Communist Party of Vietnam.
The militants were seen in the districts of Kalakan, Qarabagh and Paghman hours after taking control of Jalalabad, the last major Afghan city to fall to the insurgents.
The terror group said in a statement they do not intend to take the capital ‘by force’ after entering the outskirts of the city.
An Afghan official earlier confirmed Jalalabad fell under Taliban control without a fight early Sunday morning when the governor surrendered, saying it was ‘the only way to save civilian lives.’
Its fall has also given the Taliban control of a road leading to the Pakistan city of Peshawar, one of the main highways into landlocked Afghanistan.
Jalalabad is close to the Pakistani border and just 80 miles from Kabul – the Afghanistan capital home to more than four million people and currently the only remaining major city still under government control.
Meanwhile, Special Forces units are joining 600 British troops from the 16 Air Assault Brigade, including 150 Paratroopers, while RAF planes are being scrambled from around the world, to airlift more than 500 British Government employees out of Kabul.
The UK Government says it aims to get British ambassador Sir Laurie and his remaining embassy staff out by Sunday night – amid fears the Taliban could seize Kabul airport within days.
A Taliban fighter sits inside an Afghan National Army (ANA) vehicle along the roadside in Laghman province on Sunday
Taliban fighters drive the vehicle through the streets of Laghman province Sunday – the same day Jalalabad fell
Residents and fighters swarm an Afghan National Army vehicle on a roadside in Laghman province as the insurgents take control of major cities
Last days of the US Embassy in Kabul: Nerve center of the war on terror is being gutted of all sensitive material as staff and CIA assets
The US Embassy in Kabul – the nerve center of the war on terror – is being gutted of all its sensitive material and evacuated in 72 hours, as the Taliban coils around Afghanistan’s capital.
The Embassy’s demise will create an intelligence void that could plunge the US into pre-9/11 blindness, unless it can find another nearby country that will allow it rebuild its spy center.
For the past 20 years, the US Embassy in Kabul has gathered vast amounts of information that shaped counterterrorism military actions – such as precision drone strikes – and prevented another 9/11-type attack.
The location allowed CIA agents to meet with sources and monitor the Taliban, Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations in the region.
‘When the time comes for the US military to withdraw, the US government’s ability to collect and act on threats will diminish. That’s simply a fact,’ CIA Director Bill Burns told Senators in April.
Everyone in the Embassy – except Bureau of Diplomatic Security Service agents and top decisionmakers, including the ambassador – will be out of the country before the end of Tuesday.
Security Engineers will also stay behind as they continue to burn, shred and pulverize 20 years worth of intelligence stored on electronics and in documents.
Embassy or agency logos, American flags ‘or items which could be misused in propaganda efforts’ are also considered to be sensitive materials and will be destroyed.
The military is prepared to lower the American flag flying above the Embassy – at the State Department’s order – signaling the Embassy’s official closure.
Leaders of the extremist group say they don’t want a ‘single Afghan to be injured or killed’ during the hostile takeover – but warned ‘we’ve not signed a ceasefire yet’.
A senior US official told the New York Times the Taliban have warned the US it must cease airstrikes or else its extremist fighters will move in on US buildings.
Joe Biden has vowed that any action that puts Americans at risk ‘will be met with a swift and strong US military response.’
Meanwhile, in the UK, Boris Johnson is facing calls for a last-ditch intervention to prevent the complete collapse of Afghanistan.
The lead elements of the British force sent to evacuate the remaining UK nationals were understood to be in the capital amid fears it could fall within days or even hours.
But amid a hurried scramble for safety, helicopters were seen landing at the US embassy to ferry away remaining personnel.
In the UK, there was deep anger among many MPs at the way – 20 years after the first international forces entered Afghanistan – the country was being abandoned to its fate.
The chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee Tom Tugendhat said it was ‘the biggest single foreign policy disaster’ since Suez, while Defence Committee chairman Tobias Ellwood said it was a humiliation for the West.
Despite the decision of the Biden administration to withdraw the remaining US troops which triggered the collapse, Ellwood said it was still not too late to turn the situation around.
He called for the dispatch of the Royal Navy carrier strike group to the region and urged the Prime Minister to convene an emergency conference of ‘like-minded nations’ to see what could be done.
‘I plead with the Prime Minister to think again. We have an ever-shrinking window of opportunity to recognize where this country is going as a failed state,’ he told Times Radio.
‘We can turn this around but it requires political will and courage. This is our moment to step forward.
‘We could prevent this, otherwise history will judge us very, very harshly in not stepping in when we could do and allowing the state to fail.’
Biden’s words come back to haunt him: Just five weeks ago the president said there’s ‘no circumstance where Americans will be lifted out of the U.S. embassy in Kabul by helicopter’ – and now he’s trying to squirm out of it by blaming Trump
Joe Biden insisted last month that there’s no way his troop withdrawal from Afghanistan would lead to a Saigon-like situation with Americans emergency evacuated out of the U.S. embassy in Kabul by helicopter.
‘There’s going to be no circumstance where you’re going to see people being lifted off the roof of a (sic) embassy of the United States from Afghanistan,’ the president said during a press conference on July 8, 2021.
Biden insisted during that press conference that the U.S. would not succumb to the Taliban once troops were withdrawn and is now trying to divert blame for the takeover on Donald Trump.
Those words are coming back to bite the president after the majority of Afghanistan fell to the Taliban in just under a week and the U.S. Embassy in Kabul was forced to evacuate by helicopter once the militant forces breached the city on Sunday.
‘Is the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan now inevitable?’ a reporter asked the president at the time of the July 8 press conference.
‘No, it is not,’ Biden responded.
He explained: ‘You have the Afghan troops at 300,000 – well equipped, as well as any army in the world – and an Air Force, against something like 75,000 Taliban. It is not inevitable.’
He also said at the same press conference ‘that is not true’ that his own intelligence community was warning the Afghan government will likely collapse if there was a total and swift withdrawal.
President Joe Biden said on July 8, 2021 that ‘[t]here’s going to be no circumstance where you’re going to see people being lifted off the roof of a (sic) embassy of the United States from Afghanistan’
Biden is now eating his words after Americans were evacuated from the U.S. Embassy in Kabul by helicopter just five weeks after his remarks. A twin-rotor U.S. Air Force Chinook was seen taking off from the US Embassy Sunday as the evacuation efforts rapidly pick up
‘Afghan government leadership has to come together,’ Biden said. ‘They clearly have the capacity to sustain the government in place.’
Joe Biden immediately passed the buck to his predecessor, claiming that Trump ‘left the Taliban in the strongest military position since 2001’.
‘When I came to office, I inherited a deal cut by my predecessor—which he invited the Taliban to discuss at Camp David on the eve of 9/11 of 2019—that left the Taliban in the strongest position militarily since 2001 and imposed a May 1, 2021 deadline on US forces,’ Biden wrote in a statement Saturday.
‘Shortly before he left office, he also drew US forces down to a bare minimum of 2,500,’ the president continued in blaming former President Trump for the unfolding disaster in Afghanistan. ‘Therefore, when I became President, I faced a choice—follow through on the deal, with a brief extension to get our forces and our allies’ forces out safely, or ramp up our presence and send more American troops to fight once again in another country’s civil conflict.’
As the Taliban continues to overtake the majority of the country, forces reached the Capital City of Kabul on Sunday with officials seeking the unconditional surrender of the central government.
‘Our leadership had instructed our forces to remain at the gates of Kabul, not to enter the city,’ Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen told BBC in an interview.
‘We are awaiting a peaceful transfer of power,’ he said, adding the group expects that to happen in a matter of days.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken also blamed Trump for forcing the administration’s hand on a total withdrawal by May.
‘Like it or not, there was an agreement that the forces would come out on May 1,’ Blinken told CNN on Sunday morning.
Biden wrote a statement from Camp David on Saturday afternoon where he blamed Donald Trump for ‘leaving the Taliban in the strongest position militarily since 2001’
Taliban fighters reached Kabul on Sunday and are awaiting the ‘peaceful transfer of power’ to the militant Islamic group. They breached the city shortly after
Secretary of State Antony Blinken also blamed Trump during a CNN interview on Sunday where he said: ‘Like it or not, there was an agreement that the forces would come out on May 1’
‘Had we not begun that process, which is what the president did and the Taliban saw, then we would have been back at war with the Taliban, and we would have been back at war with tens of thousands of troops having to go in because the 2,500 troops we had there and the air power would not have sufficed,’ he said.
Blinken added in his interview on State of the Union that ‘it’s simply not in the national interest’ to remain in Afghanistan, claiming other U.S. adversaries would like ‘nothing more’ than to see another decade of American forces diverted there.
‘Come May 2nd, if the president had decided to stay, all gloves would have been off. We would have been back at war,’ Blinken said in a second interview Sunday morning with NBC’s Meet the Press.
He also said Sunday: ‘We had to put in place an entire system to deal with this. Unfortunately none of that work was done when we came in.’
The militant Islamic group was able to seize nearly all of Afghanistan in a little over a week – a stunning feat after the billions spent by the U.S. and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) over two decades the build up Afghanistan’s security forces.
An American military assessment estimated it would be a month before Kabul would come under insurgent pressure.
Biden vowed he would not pass on the war in the Middle East to whoever is president after him.
‘I was the fourth President to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan — two Republicans, two Democrats,’ he continued. ‘I would not, and will not, pass this war onto a fifth.’
Trump immediately fired back at Biden in his own email statement on Saturday claiming that due to the current administration’s actions, the Taliban don’t fear America’s power anymore.
Trump hit back by saying the Afghanistan situation is a ‘complete failure through weakness, incompetence and total strategic incoherence’ by Biden
‘Joe Biden gets it wrong every time on foreign policy, and many other issues,’ he wrote.
‘Everyone knew he couldn’t handle the pressure.’
‘He ran out of Afghanistan instead of following the plan our Administration left for him—a plan that protected our people and our property, and ensured the Taliban would never dream of taking our Embassy or providing a base for new attacks against America,’ the former president continued.
‘The withdrawal would be guided by facts on the ground,’ Trump said of the deal he made in 2019 with leaders of the Taliban.
‘After I took out ISIS, I established a credible deterrent,’ Trump added. ‘That deterrent is now gone.’
‘The Taliban no longer has fear or respect for America, or America’s power,’ he said. ‘What a disgrace it will be when the Taliban raises their flag over America’s Embassy in Kabul.’
‘This is complete failure through weakness, incompetence, and total strategic incoherence.’
In Biden’s Saturday statement, he provided a list of five things his administration is doing to address the situation in Afghanistan. This includes deploying 5,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan to assist in the total withdrawal of all allies and U.S. personnel.
‘[B]ased on the recommendations of our diplomatic, military, and intelligence teams,’ he said, ‘I have authorized the deployment of approximately 5,000 US troops to make sure we can have an orderly and safe drawdown of US personnel and other allied personnel and an orderly and safe evacuation of Afghans who helped our troops during our mission and those at special risk from the Taliban advance.’
Around 1,000 service members are already on the ground and 3,000 more were already being sent next week, before officials announced the deployment of an extra 1,000 as the situation escalated over the weekend.
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan will be evacuated in 72 hours under the protection of the military, and some staffers have already arrived at the Kabul international airport.
The Taliban have moved to within seven miles of Kabul, and taken over swathes of territory across the rest of Afghanistan. The warlords now control 19 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces
Biden also announced Saturday he is sending in 5,000 troops to help with the evacuation of U.S. and ally personnel
Secretary of State Antony Blinken held talks with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani Saturday to discuss the ‘urgency of ongoing diplomatic and political efforts to reduce the violence,’ the State Department said in a statement.
‘The Secretary emphasized the United States’ commitment to a strong diplomatic and security relationship with the Government of Afghanistan and our continuing support for the people of Afghanistan.’
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has slammed Biden for the ‘complete mismanagement’ of the Afghanistan withdrawal.
Pentagon officials warned it could be just a matter of a couple days before the Taliban seizes control of Kabul, a city with more than four million people.
McCarthy said: ‘The White House has no discernible plan other than pleading with the Taliban. The bungled withdrawal, reminiscent of his failed withdrawal from Iraq, is an embarrassment to our nation.’
‘President Biden must continue to provide the close air support necessary for the Afghan government to protect themselves from the Taliban and make sure al Qaeda and ISIS do not gain a foothold due to the Biden administration’s disastrous policies.’
But Biden hit back in a statement from Camp David on Saturday afternoon, insisting that he could not force the Afghan army to fight.
He said: ‘One more year, or five more years, of US military presence would not have made a difference if the Afghan military cannot or will not hold its own country. And an endless American presence in the middle of another country’s civil conflict was not acceptable to me.’
Biden and first lady Jill Biden departed for Camp David on Friday and plans to stay there through Wednesday.