Taliban Makes Rapid Gains in Afghanistan, U.S. Sends 3,000 Troops to Secure Drawdown of Embassy Staff
How do you feel about the situation in Afghanistan?
What’s the story?
- The Biden administration announced Thursday that about 3,000 American troops plus supporting airpower will be deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan, to secure the Hamid Karzai International Airport and cover the withdrawal of U.S. personnel and Afghans who worked with the U.S.-led coalition as the Taliban make rapid gains in the country.
- The Taliban have seized control of at least 12 of Afghanistan’s 34 provincial capitals in recent weeks. That includes Herat, which is Afghanistan’s third-largest city and reportedly fell to the Taliban on Thursday, while Kandahar ― the country’s second-largest city ― was also captured by the Taliban on Thursday. The Taliban currently control about two-thirds of Afghanistan.
- Two Marine infantry battalions and one Army combined arms battalion will be deployed to augment the 650 U.S. troops who are already in the country, which will bring U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan above the level they were at in April when President Joe Biden announced the initial withdrawal date of September 11th. Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said the troops in Afghanistan will have the ability to defend themselves if they come under attack.
- Additionally, an Army brigade combat team from the 82nd Airborne Division will be moved to the Persian where it can deploy from to Afghanistan if needed, while also aiding the processing of Afghan refugees; while the USS Ronald Reagan carrier strike group and the USS Iwo Jima amphibious ready group will also remain in the nearby Arabian Sea.
- U.S. diplomats are reportedly seeking assurances from the Taliban that the militant group will not attack the American Embassy in Kabul if they seize control of the Afghan capital. The embassy has about 4,000 personnel, including 1,400 Americans, and U.S. officials.
- There have been numerous reports of atrocities being committed by the Taliban as they’ve dealt defeats to Afghan government forces including beheadings of Afghan interpreters, mass executions of surrendering Afghan soldiers, taking young girls as sex slaves, and forced marriages. U.S. Embassy in Kabul tweeted Thursday:
“Escalating Taliban violence, including executions of surrendered Afghan troops, shows a lack of respect for #HumanRights. Don’t erase Afghanistan’s human rights gains of the last 20 years.”
- In a press briefing on Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, “The Taliban also has to make an assessment about what they want their role to be in the international community.”
- The Taliban’s gains in recent weeks have come at a more rapid pace than U.S. defense and intelligence officials projected earlier this year after the Afghanistan withdrawal was announced.
- In April, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released its annual unclassified report of worldwide threats to U.S. national security which warned at the time:
“The Taliban is likely to make gains on the battlefield, the Afghan Government will struggle to hold the Taliban at bay if the coalition withdraws support. Kabul continues to face setbacks on the battlefield, and the Taliban is confident it can achieve military victory.”
- An analysis by U.S. defense and intelligence officials in late June found that the Afghan government could fall to the Taliban in as little as six months after the U.S. withdrawal was completed.
- Now in August, defense and intelligence officials believe that the Taliban may be able to isolate Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, within 30 days and could take control of it within 90 days amid the terror group’s rapid gains.
- In early July, President Joe Biden stated, “The likelihood there’s going to be the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely.” The president departed the White House for Wilmington, Delaware, on Thursday without commenting on the situation in Afghanistan according to the White House press pool.
- Afghans Who Aided U.S. Military Against the Taliban Begin to Arrive in America as Evacuation Ramps Up (7/30/21)
- Biden Moves Up Afghanistan Withdrawal Date From September 11th to August 31st (7/8/21)
- U.S. Military Withdraws From Bagram Air Base as Afghanistan Drawdown Continues (7/3/21)
- Biden Urged to Expedite Visas for Afghan Interpreters Facing Taliban Death Threats or There Will Be ‘Blood on His Hands’ After U.S. Withdrawal (6/22/21)
- Biden Sets September 11th Withdrawal Date From Afghanistan, Drawing Bipartisan Criticism (4/14/21)
— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Marines: U.S. Naval Forces Central Command / Fifth Fleet photo by U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Dani A. Zunun via Flickr / Creative Commons | Taliban: SeHi via Flickr / Creative Commons)
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