President authorizes deployment of 5,000 additional troops to Afghanistan to support the drawdown of the American Embassy personnel from Kabul, reports Asian Lite News
President Joe Biden announced that he has authorized the deployment of roughly 5,000 additional troops to Afghanistan to support the drawdown of the American Embassy personnel from Kabul, warning the Taliban not to put the staff and mission at risk.
“Based on the recommendations of our diplomatic, military, and intelligence teams, I have authorised the deployment of approximately 5,000 US troops to make sure we can have an orderly and safe drawdown of US personnel and other allied personnel and an orderly and safe evacuation of Afghans who helped our troops during our mission and those at special risk from the Taliban advance,” Biden said in a statement late Saturday.
“We have conveyed to the Taliban representatives in Doha, via our Combatant Commander, that any action on their part on the ground in Afghanistan, that puts US personnel or our mission at risk there, will be met with a swift and strong US military response,” he added.
The Pentagon announced last week that three infantry battalions, about 3,000 troops, will be deployed to Kabul airport to support US embassy staff reduction and Afghan Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) applicants evacuation given the Taliban’s rapid offensive across the country.
Biden’s decision to send more forces comes as the Taliban seized control of Mazar-e-Sharif, the country’s fourth largest city, dealing another crushing defeat to the Afghan government.
The militant group now controls about 24 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces, and are rapidly marching towards the capital, Kabul.
Three more key Afghan cities fall to Taliban
Meanwhile, as the Taliban is continuing its rapid march towards Kabul, three more important cities have fallen to the insurgent group amid ongoing intense clashes with the war-torn country’s security forces.
On Sunday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed that the militants took control of most parts of Jalalabad, capital of Nangarhar province, some 120 km east of Kabul, reports Xinhua news agency.
He said the militants were also trying to seize control of the governor’s office and the provincial police headquarters in Jalalabad.
Jalalabad’s collapse came after the fall of Asadabad city, capital of Kunar province, and Sharan, the capital of Paktika province, on Saturday.
A witness said that the Taliban militants entered Asadabad at around 3 p.m. on Saturday and seized control of the city.
All the provincial officials, according locals, have moved to Nangarhar.
Meanwhile, the Taliban spokesman also confirmed the fall of Asadabad, saying that the government security forces had surrendered and all parts of the city are now under the militants’ control.
In a statement to Xinhua news agency, Paktika provincial council chief Bakhtiar Gul Zadran confirmed the fall of Sharan city, adding that the entire province is now under Taliban control.
All officials of the province have gone to a military base, Zadran said without providing more details
Earlier on Saturday, Taliban declared that they captured Mazar-i-Sharif and Maimana cities in the northern region, Gardez and Mehtarlam cities in the eastern part of the country.
Since the escalation of fighting in May, the Taliban has so far captured more than 20 provincial capitals.
2 key Afghan warlords flee to Uzbekistan
Prominent Afghan warlords Marshal Abdul Rashid Dostum and Atta Muhammad Noor, who were defending Mazar-e-Sharif, have fled to Uzbekistan along with their fighters and sons after the fall of the city to the Taliban.
In a Facebook post, Noor said that the collapse of Mazar-e-sharif was a plot and aimed at getting himself and Dostum surrendered, as per media reports.
The only province in the north of Afghanistan, Balkh, fell to the Taliban which brought the entire northern zone under the fighters’ control.
The Taliban launched heavy attacks on the provincial capital, Mazar-e-sharif, and toppled the city after a relatively heavy confrontation with the Afghan Forces and the armed uprising.
The Afghan government has not commented on the collapse of the Balkh province yet.
Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid on his Twitter wrote that the provincial office, police headquarter; NDS local office, and 209th Shaheen corps have fallen to the fighters.
Mujahid added that the central prison has also been broken and inmates were set free.
Earlier, Noor had said he will never ever surrender to the Taliban and there was no power to get him arrested in the province.
Dostum had also said that Balkh is the door of Afghanistan and they will never let the province topple.
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