US prepares for possible evacuation of US embassy and citizens in Kabul: media report
As the Taliban advance rapidly through Afghanistan, the United States braces for a possible evacuation of the U.S. embassy and its citizens in Kabul, with administration and military officials warning that the Afghan capital could fall in less. 30 days, according to a newspaper article.
The New York Times, citing administration and military officials, said that “the Pentagon is deploying thousands of Marines for a possible evacuation of the US Embassy and US citizens in Kabul as the Biden administration is preparing for a possible collapse of the Afghan government within 30 days. “
The NYT report said that “the 30-day estimate is a scenario and administration and military officials insist the fall of Kabul could still be avoided if Afghan security forces can s ‘engage in more resistance’.
Describing the evacuation plan, the NYT report indicates that three contingents of Marines are preparing for a possible evacuation of the US Embassy and that a battalion of several hundred Marines is already on the Embassy grounds, tasked with to evacuate the embassy, which has 4,000 employees, including 1,400. The Americans.
In addition, the Pentagon is moving an expeditionary unit of the Marines, with more than 2,000 Marines, to a position closer to the air route over West Pakistan, known as the ‘boulevard’, where it can send its forces. in Afghanistan as a rapid response team that would be able to begin an evacuation of the embassy within a day of being ordered, ”the report said, citing officials.
“And as a contingency plan in case an evacuation of the embassy turns into a fight with the Taliban, Defense Department officials have tasked thousands of Marines to begin a training exercise that can, if necessary , be quickly transformed into an evacuation deployment, “the report said. , adding that Marines participating in the exercise have been advised that they may have to be ready to deploy next week within 96 hours.
The Times also reported that Zalmay Khalilzad, the chief US envoy to talks with the Taliban, was also trying to “get assurances” from the militant group that he would not attack the embassy if they invaded. the capital.
“Khalilzad hopes to convince Taliban leaders that the embassy must remain open and secure if the group is to receive US financial aid and other aid under a future Afghan government. Taliban leaders have said they want to be seen as a legitimate steward of the country and seek to establish relations with other world powers, including Russia and China, in part to receive economic support, ”the report said.
The report says that the sharply deteriorating situation in Afghanistan amid the rapid advance of the Taliban through the country “has forced the Defense Ministry to accelerate plans to get the Americans out of the country.”
Officials also say any evacuation “will involve a massive use of US military force to move people from Hamid Karzai International Airport to waiting military transport planes and to protect them en route.”
The US Embassy in Afghanistan issued a security alert on Thursday, urging Americans to “leave Afghanistan immediately using available commercial flight options.”
The strategic town of Ghazni, about 90 miles south of Kabul, fell to the Taliban on Thursday, putting “the group in a better position to attack Kabul after its recent streak in the north.”
The report quotes a senior official in the Biden administration who said in an interview that the Taliban may soon take Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of Balkh province and the country’s economic engine.
“The fall of Mazar-i-Sharif and Kandahar, which practically collapsed, could lead to the Afghan government surrender by September,” the report said.
The report added that in the Biden administration’s plan for Afghanistan, “none of this was supposed to happen – at least not so quickly.”
Biden had announced in April that US troops would withdraw from the country by September 11, a deadline he then moved to August 31.
“Since the announcement, the Taliban have crossed town after town, with only about 75,000 fighters compared to the 300,000 Afghan security forces trained by the Americans. This dichotomy has caused frustration at the Pentagon and among US officials, who have repeatedly said that Afghan troops, if their backs are against the wall, will rally to defeat the Taliban, ”the NYT report said.
“They have a lot of advantages that the Taliban don’t have,” Defense Ministry spokesman John Kirby said, referring to the Afghan national security forces. “The Taliban don’t have an air force, the Taliban don’t have airspace. They have a lot of advantages. Now they have to use these advantages.