US secures Kabul airport perimeter, approves 6,000 troops to help with evacuations
The US military on Monday secured the perimeter of Kabul airport as its diplomats were being evacuated from war-torn Afghanistan amid the Taliban takeover, news agency AFP reported citing the state department. The US embassy in Kabul has also been completely evacuated, the department also informed hours after the Taliban insurgents captured the presidential palace in the capital city.
"All embassy personnel are located on the premises of Hamid Karzai International Airport, whose perimeter is secured by the US Military," spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.
According to a Reuters report, all Americans in Afghanistan are expected to be evacuated in the next two to three days. For this, the US has approved another 6,000 troops to facilitate the evacuation process of Americans and Afghan citizens who were working for them from Kabul.
"Over the next 48 hours, we will have expanded our security presence to nearly 6,000 troops, with a mission focused solely on facilitating these efforts and will be taking over air traffic control," the state department said in a statement. "Tomorrow and over the coming days, we will be transferring out of the country thousands of American citizens who have been resident in Afghanistan, as well as locally employed staff of the US mission in Kabul and their families and other particularly vulnerable Afghan nationals," it added.
Meanwhile, Nato allies are also sending troops back to Afghanistan to protect evacuations of their own. They had pulled out their forces ahead of the Biden administration's intended August 31 withdrawal deadline.
This comes as residents near Kabul airport reported sporadic gunfire. The US also confirmed this and said that it has instructed US citizens to take shelter in a safe place. "There are reports of the airport taking fire; therefore we are instructing US citizens to shelter in place," the US embassy said in a security alert.
Afghanistan was plunged into crisis as the US troops started withdrawing from the country in May and the Taliban made rapid advances capturing city after city. And on Sunday, they reached Kabul city and declared that the war is over and captured the presidential palace. President Ashraf Ghani has already fled the country.
"Today is a great day for the Afghan people and the mujahideen. They have witnessed the fruits of their efforts and their sacrifices for 20 years," Al-Jazeera TV quoted Mohammad Naeem, the spokesperson for the Taliban's political office, as saying. "Thanks to God, the war is over in the country," Naeem also said.
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