Scores ofin a last-minute dash to evacuate hundreds of people from the war-torn capital Kabul, which is set to fall to the Taliban. It’s thought these people would be under the most threat of punishment from the Taliban, rapidly overrunning the country as western forces leave. Australia’s mission to Afghanistan follows similar moves by the US and the UK to fly hundreds of people out of the city, including interpreters, contractors, and others who worked with allied powers.
The US hasto depart Afghanistan, 20 years after the Taliban were swept from power. The huge Bagram air base north of Kabul has already been handed over to the Afghan government. Within weeks of the announcement of the US leaving, the Taliban has ripped through the country with impressive and chilling efficiency. On Fri , the Taliban captured four more provincial capitals, adding to its seizure of Afghanistan’s second and third-largest cities, Kandahar and Herat, the day before.
It now controls more than two-thirds of the country. There are reports of captured Afghan soldiers beinginto marriages with Taliban fighters. The militants now have their eyes on the main prize – Kabul. Spooked by the Taliban’s encroachment on the capital, the US announced 3000 troops would be sent to Kabul to evacuate the staff from its embassy along with some . The Americans will be joined by 600 UK troops and soldiers from Canada with the same mission.
On Sunday, ABCwould set up an “air bridge” mission involving military, customs, immigration, and consular staff. The top priority list to be flown out is who worked with Australian forces, diplomatic staff, and contractors. Australians working for charities within the country, journalists, and some dual citizens will also be offered an exit route out of Afghanistan. The RAAF planes are set to . Keeping the airport in Government’s hands is crucial to the success of the mercy dashes. The last left Afghanistan on June 18. On May 10, met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and said she “affirmed Australia’s support for the people of Afghanistan”. She called Taliban “cowardly”.
The US has insisted that its embassy remain open in Kabul for “priority functions” despite the evacuation of most staff and will provide consular services and support “peace, security, assistance, and co-operation on counter-terrorism”. There has been sustained criticism of the US withdrawal, even within the US military elite. Retired US Army General H.R. McMaster, a national security adviser, spoke at an event organized by the Wilson Centre think tank in Washington DC on Friday.
“We talked ourselves into defeat in Afghanistan,” he said. “We are facing the growth, now, of a multigenerational problem with jihadist terrorism, and disengaging from it is not the answer because it cedes the initiative and resources to our determined, brutal, murderous enemies.” But Presidentis unrepentant. “Look, we spent over a trillion dollars over 20 years. We trained and equipped with modern equipment over 300,000 Afghan forces,” he said on Tuesday. “Afghan leaders have to . They’ve got to fight for themselves and their nation.” -with Sam Clench.