KABUL, AFGHANISTAN – The American mission in Afghanistan appears to be ending before U.S. President Joe Biden’s timeline, setting up a potentially deadly and dangerous scenario similar to the fall of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War.
Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani has reportedly fled the country as helicopters race back and forth from the U.S. embassy evacuating personnel. Embassy staff were in the process of burning and destroying equipment, papers and intelligence information as Taliban forces entered the city.
The Associated Press reported gunfire at Kabul Aiport as Taliban forces fought to seize the facility. Afghanistan residents were lined up at ATM withdrawing their savings from bank accounts before the militants seized the city.
Last week, President Joe Biden said the Taliban seizure of the capital city could be 90 days away. Now, it appears the city will fall within days, if not hours.
Taliban fighting at the airport forced the cancelation of flights out of the city, leaving the American evacuation the only way out of the city by air for those seeking to flee. The U.S. Ambassador in Afghanistan has been evacuated from the country, the AP reported.
“This morning, the President and Vice President met with their national security team and senior officials to hear updates on the draw down of our civilian personnel in Afghanistan, evacuations of SIV applicants and other Afghan allies, and the ongoing security situation in Kabul,” the U.S. State Department said moments ago.
Two days ago, the Biden administration declared “Kabul is not in an imminent threat environment”.
Today, the city is on the verge of falling to Taliban.
The Taliban have freed hundreds of political prisoners from the Kabul prison, reportedly. Later, the Taliban entered the Afghanistan Presidential Palace in Kabul.
It is not clear whether or not Joe Biden’s 5,000 unit troop surge had made it in-country before the city fell. The Taliban have seized control of the western back government.
Now, the U.S. staff at the embassy is at the mercy of Taliban forces advancing.
“We have conveyed to the Taliban reps in Doha that any action on their part that puts U.S. personnel or our mission at risk will be met with a swift & strong @DeptofDefense response,” The embassy said today.
An hour ago, the embassy said any Americans seeking to flee Afghanistan should not call the embassy, but instead fill out a form. They have instead ordered U.S. citizens to shelter in place.
“The security situation in Kabul is changing quickly including at the airport. There are reports of the airport taking fire; therefore we are instructing U.S. citizens to shelter in place. U.S. citizens wanting assistance in departing the country should register for any option that might be identified to return to the United States, and must complete this Repatriation Assistance Request for each traveler in their group. Spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens in Afghanistan who are awaiting immigrant visas should also complete this form if they wish to depart. Please do so as soon as possible. You must complete this form even if you’ve previously submitted your information to the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. Do not call the U.S. Embassy in Kabul for details or updates about the flight. This form is the only way to communicate interest in flight options,” the embassy said.