The United States’ top diplomat is calling the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and the imminent fall of Kabul “heart-wrenching stuff,” and says U.S. forces are working to get all Americans, as well as Afghans who worked with the U.S., out of the country.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken Sunday said the safety of U.S. personnel, some of whom are still at the embassy, and Afghan helpers was “job number one,” fending off criticism that Washington was unprepared for the rapid collapse of Afghan forces.
The U.S. will "do everything we possibly can for as long as we can to get them out if that's what they want," Blinken told CNN’s "State of the Union."
"We haven't asked the Taliban for anything," Blinken added. "We've told the Taliban that if they interfere w/our personnel, w/our operations, as we're proceeding with this drawdown, there will be a swift and decisive response."
Separately Sunday, a U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the situation, told VOA the evacuation of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul is “well underway.”
The official also said that thousands more U.S. troops are arriving in Afghanistan and “firmly control” both the area around the embassy and Hamid Karzai International Airport, outside of Kabul.
A senior administration official told VOA Sunday that U.S. President Joe Biden, who has been spending the past few days at Camp David, a presidential retreat outside of Washington, has been updated on the latest developments.
“The president has spoken to members of his National Security team on the situation in Afghanistan and will continue to receive updates and be briefed throughout the day,” the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Biden on Saturday authorized an additional 1,000 troops to head to Kabul to help secure U.S. assets and get U.S. personnel and Afghans who worked for the U.S. to safety.
A total of about 4,000 U.S. troops are expected to land in Kabul in the coming days, bolstering a force that had been down to as few as 650 troops in recent days.