lørdag 14. august 2021

US troops start to arrive for Afghanistan evacuation as Taliban close in on Kabul

US troops have begun arriving in Afghanistan to help evacuate thousands of people, including embassy staff, and Afghans and their families who worked for them as a sweeping Taliban offensive draws ever nearer to Kabul. Diplomats and nationals from a host of western countries are scrambling to leave the capital, with insurgent fighters now camped just 50km (30 miles) away after a campaign that has seen provincial capitals swiftly fall.

US embassy staff have been ordered to begin shredding and burning sensitive material, as units from a planned re-deployment of 3,000 American troops started arriving to secure the airport and oversee the evacuations. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said “elements” of a battalion were now in Kabul, the vanguard of three Marine and Army battalions that the US was sending to the city. Kirby said that most of the troops would be in place by Sunday and “will be able to move thousands per day” out of Afghanistan. “Capacity is not going to be a problem,” he said.

The US is also moving an additional 4,500 to 5,000 troops to bases in the Gulf countries of Qatar and Kuwait, including 1,000 to Qatar to speed up visa processing for Afghan translators and others who fear retribution from the Taliban for their past work with Americans, and their family members.