Marine vanguard lands in Kabul as US speeds up evacuations – News Vibe24

    Marine vanguard lands in Kabul as US speeds up evacuations - Times of India
    The first forces of a Marine Corps arrived in Kabul on Friday to guard as US speeds up evacuation flights for some US diplomats and thousands of Afghans, sparked by a lightning Taliban attack that is increasingly isolating the Afghan capital.
    Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said “elements” of a battalion are now in Kabul, the vanguard of three US Marine Corps battalions sent to the city by the end of the weekend to help more American and Afghan colleagues flee.
    Encouraged by the impending end of the US combat mission in the country, the Taliban seized four other provincial capitals on Friday, raising fears that they would soon move to the capital, home to millions of Afghans. “It is clear from their actions that they are trying to isolate Kabul,” Kirby told the Pentagon.
    The Pentagon also transferred an additional 4,500 to 5,000 troops to bases in the Gulf states of Qatar and Kuwait, including 1,000 in Qatar, to expedite visa processing for Afghan translators and others who fear being punished by the Taliban for their previous cooperation with the United States. and their family members.
    The rest – 3,500 to 4,000 troops from a battle brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division – headed for Kuwait. Kirby said the troops would be a reserve force on standby “in case we need even more” than the 3,000 going to Kabul.
    The temporary mobilization of troops for US evacuations underscores the astonishing pace of the Taliban occupation of much of the country, less than three weeks before the US officially ended nearly 20 years of fighting in Afghanistan.
    President Joe Biden has been adamant about ending the US mission on August 31, insisting that the US mission and NATO, which began on October 7, 2001, did everything they could to create an Afghan government and army based in Kabul that would could withstand the Taliban when Western troops finally withdrew.
    The last major blow on Friday was the Taliban takeover of the capital of Helmand province, where US, British and other NATO allies have fought some of the bloodiest battles in 20 years. Hundreds of Western troops died there during the war, in battles that often managed to overthrow Taliban fighters locally, only to be returned by the Taliban when a Western unit was removed.
    The State Department said the embassy in Kabul would remain partially staffed and operational, but Thursday’s decision to remove a significant number of embassy staff and bring in thousands more US troops is a sign of a weakening confidence in the government. Stop Rising Taliban. The Biden government did not rule out a complete evacuation of the embassy.
    The U.S. had already withdrawn most of its troops, but had kept about 650 troops in Afghanistan to support U.S. diplomatic security, including the airport.
    The Biden government has warned Taliban officials that the United States will respond if the Taliban attack Americans during intensified deployments and evacuations.
    The Americans are setting up a military base abroad to pick up and host large numbers of these Afghan translators and others as their visa applications are processed. The Biden government has not identified the base, but has previously spoken to both Kuwait and Qatar about using US bases there for temporary relocation.
    As of Thursday, the United States had flown 1,200 Afghans – former U.S. officials and their families whose visas are farther away in the approval process – to Fort Lee, Virginia.
    State Department spokesman Ned Price said the United States would soon have evacuation planes flying daily for Afghan translators and others who manage to reach Kabul airport despite the fighting.
    The number of Afghans evacuated under the special visa program is set to “increase very rapidly in the coming days,” Price said on Thursday.
    The viability of the US-trained Afghan army seemed increasingly dim. A new military estimate says Kabul could be under pressure from the Taliban only in September and, if current trends continue, the country could fall to the Taliban within a few months.
    Shortly before Price’s announcement of the evacuation of some embassy staff, the embassy urged Americans to leave immediately – reiterating the warning it first issued on Saturday.
    The latest reduction will further limit the embassy’s ability to do business, although Price has maintained that it could still operate. The non-essentials had already resigned from the embassy in April following the announcement of Biden’s resignation the same month, and it was not immediately clear how many staff would remain in the heavily fortified group. As of Thursday, there were about 4,200 staff at the embassy, ​​but most of them are Afghan nationals, according to the State Department.
    In addition to the complete evacuation and closure of the embassy, ​​Price said other contingency plans are being weighed, including possibly relocating its operations to the airport.
    Britain also sent 600 troops to Afghanistan on a short-term basis to help its nationals flee the country.
    Canada has sent special forces to help Canadian personnel leave Kabul, a source familiar with the plan told the Associated Press. This official, who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity, did not say how many special forces would be sent.


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