US diplomats hasten exit as Taliban near Kabul

Diplomats hasten exit as Taliban near Kabul
Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced by the conflict. Source: Getty Images
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Daily US Times: The first US troops are arriving in Afghanistan to help American citizens, diplomats, and others leave, as many countries scramble to evacuate citizens and workers amid a rapid Taliban advance.

Taliban militants captured Pul-e-Alam on Friday, capital of Logar province, just 50 miles (80km) from the capital Kabul.

The UN chief António Guterres said the situation was spinning out of control with devastating consequences for civilians.

More than 250,000 Afghans have been forced to leave their homes so far as violence escalated.

The aggressive Taliban advance comes as the US and other foreign forces withdraw from Afghanistan after 20 years of military operations. The fighting between the government forces and the militants has raised fears that gains in human rights made since the Taliban were ousted from power in 2001 could be swiftly reversed.

Life under the Taliban in the 1990s saw education restricted for girls over 10, women forced to wear the all-covering burka and brutal punishments including public executions.

Taliban seized the country’s second-largest city Kandahar on Friday and the nearby city of Lashkar Gah, as well as Herat in the west. The militant group is now controlling about a third of Afghanistan’s provincial capitals.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby called the recent advances by Taliban “deeply concerning”, but downplayed any suggestion that the country’s capital Kabul was under imminent threat from the group.

Most of the 3,000 US soldiers being sent to help evacuate US diplomats will arrive by the end of the weekend. The United States intends to airlift thousands of people a day out of Kabul.

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