The US government has announced that it will deploy thousands of troops to the Kabul airport to support the American Embassy staff drawdown as the security situation in war-torn continues to deteriorate.
"We are further reducing our civilian footprint in Kabul, in light of the evolving security situation. We expect to draw down to a core diplomatic presence in Afghanistan in the coming weeks," Xinhua news agency quoted State Department spokesperson Ned Price as saying during a briefing here on Thursday.
"In order to facilitate this reduction, the Department of Defense will temporarily deploy additional personnel to the Hamid Karzai International Airport," he added.
Price said that the Embassy remains open, and the US plans to continue diplomatic work in the country. Earlier in the day, the Embassy urged Americans to leave the country immediately.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin spoke on the phone with Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani to coordinate the plan.
Also on Thursday, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby told reporters that three infantry battalions, about 3,000 troops, will be deployed to Kabul airport within 24 to 48 hours.
In addition, around 1,000 personnel of a joint US Army and Air Force support team will be sent to Qatar to facilitate the processing of Afghan applicants for Special Immigrant Visas (SIV).
An infantry brigade combat team will arrive in Kuwait next week in case additional forces are needed.
"This is a temporary mission with a narrow focus," said Kirby, calling the move "a prudent thing to do given the rapidly deteriorating security situation in and around Kabul".
US withdrawal of troops
According to media reports, currently, there are about 650 US troops in the country and about 1,400 American staff at the embassy.
The announcement of embassy staff reduction and military reinforcements came as Taliban militants made rapid military advances across the country.
The insurgent group captured Ghazni city, the capital of eastern Ghazni province earlier on Thursday, bringing the number of provincial capitals captured so far to 10 in less than a week.
The situation in the war-torn country has been worsening since the withdrawal of the US-led forces starting on May 1.
Many Afghan cities and about half of the country's 34 provinces in recent weeks have seen heavy battles and street fighting between Afghan forces and Taliban militants.
President Joe Biden ordered the US military to end its mission in Afghanistan by the end of this month.
He said on Tuesday that the US would continue to provide air support and military equipment to Afghanistan while noting Afghan forces must "fight for themselves, fight for their nation".
"We're going to continue to keep our commitment. But I do not regret my decision," he said.