Pentagon sending 3000 troops to evacuate cvilian embassy personnel in Afghanistan

The Pentagon is sending 3,000 troops back into Afghanistan to help evacuate some personnel from the US embassy amid the Taliban’s surging encroachment on the capital city of Kabul.

Those 3,000 troops, part of three infantry battalions, are in addition to the over 650 US service members still currently stationed in Afghanistan.    

Another 3,500 to 4000 reserve forces will be stationed in Kuwait on standby, and another 1000 will go to Qatar to help with Special Immigrant Visa processing. 

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said: ‘we believe this is it the prudent thing to do given the rapidly deteriorating security situation in and around Kabul.’

Kirby said the mission is to reduce the civilian personnel presence at the US embassy in Kabul by the end of the month. He said he wouldn’t speculate what the military ‘footprint’ would look like in Afghanistan beyond August 31.  However, he said President Biden’s Aug. 31 deadline to withdraw US forces still stands.

Kirby specified the new deployment was part of a ‘narrowly-focused mission of safeguarding’ but refused to say whether the 3,000 troops would be included in that deadline. 

State Department spokesman Ned Price said the embassy would continue to focus on counterterrorism, furthering peace and security and consular work, especially facilitating special immigrant visas (SIVs) for Afghans who worked to help the US military. 

He said those who are leaving are ‘those who might be able to perform functions elsewhere in the world’ or who ‘may not be necessary to perform functions.’ 

Price refused to classify the clear-out as an ‘evacuation,’ and stressed it’s a withdrawal of civilian personnel.

‘We are in no way abandoning the people of Afghanistan. Far from it. We are going to continue doing everything we can,’ he added, when asked what kind of message the Taliban should take from the withdrawal.

Price also stressed that US troops were there strictly to help embassy personnel leave the country safely. ‘This is not about re-engaging in military conflict in Afghanistan.’

At the same time, the United Kingdom is sending 600 troops back to Afghanistan to help British nationals to evacuate the nation.  

By Thursday, Taliban fighters had captured Afghanistan’s third largest city, Herat, giving them control of 11 of 34 provincial capitals. The militant group is said to be in the process of capturing Kandahar, the nation’s second largest city behind Kabul. 

Earlier, it was reported American negotiators were seeking assurances from the Taliban that the militant group will not go after the US embassy if they overtake Kabul. 

The effort, led by Zalmay Khalilzad, the chief American envoy in negotiations with the Taliban, seeks to avoid an evacuation of the embassy’s nearly 4,000 employees, including, 1,400 Americans, two US officials told the New York Times. 

The State Department last week warned US citizens to get out of the war-ravaged nation immediately. 

Khalilzad arrived in Qatar on Tuesday to warn Taliban officials that their government would not be recognized.  

Pleas to leave the embassy untouched seem to go against the president’s public assurances that he has still has faith Afghan forces can hold on to Kabul. 

Taliban fighters could isolate Afghanistan‘s capital in 30 days and possibly take it over within 90, a U.S. defense official told Reuters citing intelligence reports as the resurgent militants made more advances across the country. 

Taliban militants are seen inside the Ghazni city, eastern Afghanistan, Aug. 12, 2021. Taliban militants Thursday overran Afghanistan's eastern Ghazni province's capital city Ghazni, 150 km from the national capital Kabul

Taliban militants are seen inside the Ghazni city, eastern Afghanistan, Aug. 12, 2021. Taliban militants Thursday overran Afghanistan's eastern Ghazni province's capital city Ghazni, 150 km from the national capital Kabul

Taliban militants are seen inside the Ghazni city, eastern Afghanistan, Aug. 12, 2021. Taliban militants Thursday overran Afghanistan’s eastern Ghazni province’s capital city Ghazni, 150 km from the national capital Kabul

Pleas to leave the embassy untouched seem to go against the president's public assurances that he has still has faith Afghan forces can hold on to Kabul.

Pleas to leave the embassy untouched seem to go against the president's public assurances that he has still has faith Afghan forces can hold on to Kabul.

Pleas to leave the embassy untouched seem to go against the president’s public assurances that he has still has faith Afghan forces can hold on to Kabul.

The Taliban has taken the city of Ghanzi, just 80 miles south of Kabul, and Herat in the west of the country. The fall of Ghanzi means Islamist fighters now control the main highways leading both north and south out of the capital Kabul. Herat is the country's third largest city and was the 11th provincial capital to fall in a week

The Taliban has taken the city of Ghanzi, just 80 miles south of Kabul, and Herat in the west of the country. The fall of Ghanzi means Islamist fighters now control the main highways leading both north and south out of the capital Kabul. Herat is the country's third largest city and was the 11th provincial capital to fall in a week

The Taliban has taken the city of Ghanzi, just 80 miles south of Kabul, and Herat in the west of the country. The fall of Ghanzi means Islamist fighters now control the main highways leading both north and south out of the capital Kabul. Herat is the country’s third largest city and was the 11th provincial capital to fall in a week

‘But it is not a foregone conclusion,’ the official said, adding that Afghan Security Forces could reverse course by surging their resistance.  

‘They’ve got to fight for themselves, fight for their nation. The United States will insist to continue the commitments … they’ve got to want to fight. I think there’s still a possibility,’ Biden said on Monday of the Afghan military.  

‘I do not regret my decision’ to withdraw, the president continued. 

The Biden administration is facing intensifying pressure as swelling Taliban advances draw more public condemnations of the decision to withdraw. 

‘Clearly, the Biden Administration is completely unaware of the threats we’re facing from Afghanistan’s collapse and has no intention of adjusting their failing policy,’ Sen. Lindsey Graham wrote on Twitter on Thursday. 

Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., a notorious hawk who has long been opposed to leaving Afghanistan, called the State Department’s handling of withdrawal ‘an embarrassment.’ 

‘When you look just at how the State Department, for example, is handling this, I mean, it’s an embarrassment, and it has a huge impact on America’s standing around the world,” the lawmaker said Thursday on the Hugh Hewitt Show. 

U.S. warplanes have launched strikes in support of government troops in recent days but the Pentagon has yet to say whether they will continue to offer air support once Biden’s withdrawal deadline has passed. 

The Taliban, who ruled the country from 1996 until U.S. forces invaded after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, captured three more provincial capitals on Wednesday – giving them effective control of about two-thirds of the country. 

The insurgents have no air force and are outnumbered by U.S.-trained Afghan defense forces, but they have captured territory with stunning speed. The Taliban wants to defeat the U.S-backed government and reimpose strict Islamic law.  

In just the latest warning of atrocities being perpetrated by jihadist fighters in areas they have seized, the US now claims that Taliban fighters are executing Afghan troops who surrender. 

 ‘We’re hearing additional reports of Taliban executions of surrendering Afghan troops,’ the US embassy in Kabul tweeted on Thursday. ‘Deeply disturbing & could constitute war crimes.’  

Taliban fighters are also going door-to-door and forcibly marrying girls as young as 12 and forcing them into sex slavery as they seize vast swathes of the Afghanistan from government forces. 

Jihadist commanders have ordered imams in areas they have captured to bring them lists of unmarried women aged from 12 to 45  for their soldiers to marry because they view them as ‘qhanimat’ or ‘spoils of war’ – to be divided up among the victors.

Fighters have then been going door-to-door to claim their ‘prizes’, even looking through the wardrobes of families to establish the ages of girls before forcing them into a life of sexual servitude. 

A family including women and children rest at a makeshift camp in the Afghan capital of Kabul after fleeing fighting

A family including women and children rest at a makeshift camp in the Afghan capital of Kabul after fleeing fighting

A family including women and children rest at a makeshift camp in the Afghan capital of Kabul after fleeing fighting

Young boys rest in a refugee camp in Kabul, Afghanistan, after fleeing fighting elsewhere in the country

Young boys rest in a refugee camp in Kabul, Afghanistan, after fleeing fighting elsewhere in the country

Young boys rest in a refugee camp in Kabul, Afghanistan, after fleeing fighting elsewhere in the country

Fighting has displaced hundreds of thousands of Afghan civilians who have fled their homes, with thousands of those heading for the safety of government-held Kabul (pictured)

Fighting has displaced hundreds of thousands of Afghan civilians who have fled their homes, with thousands of those heading for the safety of government-held Kabul (pictured)

Fighting has displaced hundreds of thousands of Afghan civilians who have fled their homes, with thousands of those heading for the safety of government-held Kabul (pictured)

Meanwhile, White House press secretary Jen Psaki came under fire for her overly-diplomatic attitude toward the brutal militant group. 

‘The Taliban also has to make an assessment about what they want their role to be in the international community,’ she said in an effort to nudge them to the negotiating table. 

In an attempt to stop the bloodletting, Afghan diplomats in Qatar said they had approached the Taliban with a deal today that would see the group included in a national unity government in return for halting the fighting.

But such talks have been stalled for years over Taliban demands to turn the country into an Islamic emirate – and there is little reason to believe they will have softened that stance after their battlefield triumphs. 

Children forced to flee their homes due to fighting in Afghanistan drink tea as they sit in a refugee camp in Kabul

Children forced to flee their homes due to fighting in Afghanistan drink tea as they sit in a refugee camp in Kabul

Children forced to flee their homes due to fighting in Afghanistan drink tea as they sit in a refugee camp in Kabul

Families rest in a camp in Kabul after they fled their homes due to fear of the Taliban and sought shelter in government areas

Families rest in a camp in Kabul after they fled their homes due to fear of the Taliban and sought shelter in government areas

Families rest in a camp in Kabul after they fled their homes due to fear of the Taliban and sought shelter in government areas

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