US to boost Afghanistan presence to 6,000 troops as it ‘takes steps’ to secure Kabul airport amid mass evacuation
As Kabul international airport was plunged into chaos, becoming the only way out of the country for thousands of Afghans desperate to escape Taliban rule, the US announced it would be taking over air traffic control at the airport to speed up the evacuation of Americans as well as allied Afghans.
For that purpose, the US military said it would deploy another 1,000 troops in addition to the 5,000 that US President Joe Biden ordered into Afghanistan to ensure an “orderly and safe drawdown of US personnel” earlier.Also on rt.com Biden orders INCREASE in US presence in Afghanistan as he threatens Taliban with ‘strong’ military response if interests attacked
“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 US Departments of State and Defense said in a joint statement on Sunday.
Inbox: Joint statement released by the Department of State and Department of Defense on Afghanistan. pic.twitter.com/2snXFUEYTL— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) August 15, 2021
The backup troops will be used to streamline the evacuation of “thousands” of Americans that have resided in Afghanistan, local US embassy employees, as well as “other particularly vulnerable Afghan nationals.”
“Thousands of Afghans” that qualify for special immigrant visas will also be evacuated. All those who have passed security checks will be flown directly to the US, while others will be moved to “additional locations” where they can wait to be cleared.
The airport has descended into full-blown chaos after the Taliban entered the country’s capital, declaring its victory in the war from the presidential palace following the abrupt resignation of President Ashraf Ghani.Also on rt.com WATCH: Traffic jams, chaos at Kabul airport as thousands try to flee Taliban takeover
Panicked residents, fearing repercussions under Taliban rule, clogged city streets with cars in a last-minute attempt to reach the airport. Footage circulating online shows large groups of people flocking to the airport’s entrance as shots rang out in the background. The gunfire reportedly led to the suspension of all commercial flights, leaving it up to military planes to evacuate stranded residents.
Armored trucks were spotted on the tarmac, cruising through the crowds, as US servicemen were seen establishing a security сordon around the airport.
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