US Embassy urges Americans to leave Afghanistan immediately
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul is urging all Americans to leave Afghanistan “immediately” as the security situation in the country continues to deteriorate due to advances made by the Taliban in key provinces amid the U.S.’s troop withdrawal.
The embassy urged all U.S. citizens to vacate the country “using available commercial flight options.” It said its ability to assist Americans in Afghanistan is “extremely limited” because of the security conditions and reduced staffing.
The embassy is offering repatriation loans to citizens who cannot afford to purchase an airline ticket.
The notice comes days after the embassy issued a similar security alert on Saturday urging U.S. citizens to leave the country immediately.
The Taliban has seized a number of key provincial capitals in Afghanistan in recent days as the U.S. and NATO inch closer to completing their military withdrawals from the country. The U.S. is set to complete its withdrawal by Aug. 31, according to President Biden.
The White House initially set Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that led to America’s longest war, as the target date for all troops to be pulled from the region but moved that deadline up last month.
The insurgent group captured the city of Kunduz in northern Afghanistan over the weekend, with a total of six provincial capitals being claimed as of Monday.
The country is now reporting an increase in civilian deaths and targeted killings of senior Afghan officials.
U.S. Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad traveled to Doha, Qatar on Tuesday, where the Taliban has a political office established, to “help formulate a joint international response to the rapidly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan,” according to the State Department.
The trip was meant to urge the Taliban to put an end to their military offensive and look toward a political settlement, which the State Department said is “the only path to stability and development in Afghanistan.”
The department said the “increased tempo of Taliban military engagement,” some of which has led to armed conflict resulting in civilian casualties, in addition to allegations of human rights atrocities, are “of grave concern.”
Opponents of Biden’s plan to pull all troops from the region are ramping up their attacks following the Taliban’s recent gains, pointing to the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan as a reason why the president should reverse his decision.
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, said Biden should “change course or be held accountable for his decision” in Afghanistan.
“President Biden’s legacy will be stained with the bloodshed of innocent Afghan women and children who have been left at the mercy of a merciless terrorist organization,” Rogers said in a statement.
“President Biden cannot hide from this catastrophe. It’s happening on his watch because of his actions. He must change course or be held accountable for his decision,” he added.
Biden, however, is defending the U.S. troop withdrawal, telling reporters on Tuesday that he does not regret his decision.
“We spent over $1 trillion over 20 years. We trained and equipped with modern equipment over 300,000 Afghan forces. And Afghan leaders have to come together. We lost thousands, we lost to death and injury, thousands of American personnel. They’ve got to fight for themselves, fight for their nation,” Biden said.
“I think they’re beginning to realize they’ve got to come together politically at the top and, but we’re going to continue to keep our commitment. But I do not regret my decision,” he added.