Most US troops to arrive in Kabul by end of weekend: Pentagon

By: AFP      Published: 11:37 PM, 13 Aug, 2021
Most US troops to arrive in Kabul by end of weekend: Pentagon

Most US troops on a mission to evacuate the Kabul embassy will arrive by Sunday and will be prepared to airlift thousands of people per day, the Pentagon said.

The first Marines have arrived at Kabul's international airport as part of a mission ordered a day earlier by President Joe Biden as the Taliban makes sweeping gains following his withdrawal of US troops.

"I expect that by the end of the weekend the bulk of the 3,000 (troops) will be in place," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters Friday.

Some 4,200 people were working as of this week at the sprawling embassy in the Afghan capital and thousands more Afghans who served as interpreters or in other support roles in the 20-year US mission are eager to escape for fear of Taliban retaliation.

"Capacity is not going to be a problem," Kirby said of the airlifts.

"We will be able to move thousands per day."

Kabul not facing 'imminent threat' Pentagon

Kabul does not appear to face an "imminent threat" despite Taliban insurgents' rapid gains in Afghanistan, the US Defense Department said Friday.

"Kabul is not right now in an imminent threat environment," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters, while acknowledging that Taliban fighters are "trying to isolate Kabul."

The Taliban on Thursday overran Afghanistan's second and third largest cities, Kandahar and Herat, days after the United States completed most of its withdrawal from a 20-year military involvement.

The Pentagon acknowledged its concerns but made clear that the United States believed that the Afghan military was now responsible.

"We have noted with great concern the speed with which they have been moving and the lack of resistance that they have faced, and we have been nothing but honest about that," Kirby said.

"We want to see the will and the political leadership -- the military leadership -- that's required in the field," he said.

"Whether it pans out or not, that's really for the Afghans to decide," he added. "No outcome has to be inevitable."

Categories : South Asia