WASHINGTON: The United States urged its citizens on Thursday to leave Afghanistan immediately as a US intelligence report predicted that the Afghan capital Kabul could fall to the Taliban in 90 days.
The security alert for Americans still in Afghanistan said that the US Embassy in Kabul could soon announce evacuation flights for them but asked them not to delay their departure.
“US citizens should leave Afghanistan as soon as possible using available commercial transportation and not plan to rely on US government flights,” the alert said.
Those who could not afford a flight or were waiting for a child or a spouse visa were asked to contact the embassy as soon as possible.
This was the second such alert in less than a week, sent to Americans through the embassy. The earlier warning, released on Saturday, also advised Americans to leave but lacked the urgency included in Thursday’s notice.
The alerts followed a stunning Taliban victory across the country, even in the north where the insurgents never had much of a support. On Thursday, the Taliban captured Herat, Afghanistan’s third-largest city, soon after taking Ghazni, about 150 km southwest of Kabul. The group is also closing in on Kandahar, the country’s second-largest city.
The US media reported on Thursday that clashes between the Taliban and Afghan forces have intensified as the Aug 31 deadline for the withdrawal of all foreign troops approaches. In less than a week, the Taliban have claimed at least eleven of the nation’s thirty-four provincial capitals.
Published in Dawn, August 13th, 2021