Afghanistan: US to take over air traffic control at Kabul airport
The United States has announced that it will be taking over air traffic control at Kabul airport and will expand the country's security presence to nearly 6,000 troops to facilitate the safe departure of the American and allied personnel from Afghanistan via civilian and military flights.
In a joint statement on Sunday, the US Department of State and Department of Defence said the US will be transferring thousands of American citizens as well as locally employed staff of the US mission in Kabul and their families over the coming days. The US has flown approximately 500 staff members from the US Embassy in Kabul out of Afghanistan today, a defence official told CNN. Approximately 4,000 US Embassy staff members are still to fly out of the country, including US citizens and Afghan nationals who work for the embassy, two defence officials said.
"At present we are completing a series of steps to secure the Hamid Karzai International Airport to enable the safe departure of the U.S. and allied personnel from Afghanistan via civilian and military flights. Over the next 48 hours, we will have expanded our security presence to nearly 6,000 troops, with a mission focused solely on facilitating these efforts and will be taking over air traffic control," the joint statement read. "Tomorrow and over the coming days, we will be transferring out of the country thousands of American citizens who have been resident in Afghanistan, as well as locally employed staff of the U.S. mission in Kabul and their families and other particularly vulnerable Afghan nationals," it added.
It was reported on Sunday the United States is pulling out all US personnel from its embassy in Kabul over the next 72 hours. As the Taliban claimed control over the Afghan capital, several countries evacuated diplomatic personnel from the country, and crowds of people flocked to the Kabul airport in an attempt to leave Afghanistan.
The original evacuation plan that called for 3,000 troops was essentially the baseline security plan that assumed a safe environment, the official said. The Pentagon had to double that to 6,000 as the security situation suddenly deteriorated further. "And we will accelerate the evacuation of thousands of Afghans eligible for U.S. Special Immigrant Visas, nearly 2,000 of whom have already arrived in the United States over the past two weeks. For all categories, Afghans who have cleared security screening will continue to be transferred directly to the United States. And we will find additional locations for those yet to be screened," the statement read.
Afghanistan government collapsed earlier in the day with President Ashraf Ghani leaving the country and the Taliban's entry into the capital, the New York Times reported. Taliban terrorists are assuming control of the Afghan capital of Kabul and have taken control of the presidential palace.
Reports suggest that the movement will soon proclaim the re-establishment of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Taliban deputy leader Mullah Baradar on Sunday said that the terror group's victory, which saw all of the country's major cities fall in a week, was unexpectedly swift and had no match in the world. In a short video message, he said the real test would begin now with meeting the expectations of the people and serving them by resolving their problems, Al Jazeera reported.