Aug. 15 (UPI) — Taliban militants have taking control of most Afghanistan, including reaching the outskirts of Kabul, as the United States has authorized 5,000 troops to help evacuate U.S. personnel, including from its embassy in the capital.
The Taliban says fighters had been ordered to remain on the edges of the capital with negotiations taking place to ensure a peaceful transition of power. “We assure the people in Afghanistan — there will be no revenge on anyone,” a Taliban spokesman told the BBC.
Earlier Sunday, militants took without a fight control of Jalalabad, a key eastern city, which means roads are secured the roads connecting the country with Pakistan.
The Taliban has regained Bagram airfield and prison, which is about 25 miles north of the city center.
The complex, which was once the largest U.S. military facility in Afghanistan, was evacuated by the U.S. military on July 2.
Staff from its Kabul embassy are being evacuated, with people seen boarding military planes at the airport.
The process will take 72 hours, two sources familiar with the situation told CNN on Sunday. A small number of core personnel, including the top U.S. diplomat will remain at the Kabul airport.
On Saturday, President Joe Biden announced an additional direct deployment of 1,000 troops to Afghanistan for a total of 5,000 “to make sure we can have an orderly and safe drawdown of U.S. personnel and other allied personnel and an orderly and safe evacuation of Afghans who helped our troops during our mission and those at special risk from the Taliban advance.”
About 1,000 are already on the ground in country, according to a defense official. A 1,000-troop battalion from the 82nd Airborne Division were redirected to Kabul, instead of being on standby in Kuwait.
Russia says it will not be closing its embassy, because of security assurances by the Taliban. But Russia is planning to convene an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.
The Taliban were ousted nearly 20 years ago by a U.S.-led military coalition.
People in Kabul have no need to worry and their properties and lives are safe, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told the BBC.
“We are the servants of the people and of this country,” he said.
The Taliban want Afghans is help with the post-conflict reconstruction, Shaheen said.