Flag lowered at US Kabul embassy, ‘almost all’ staff at airport: State Dept

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The US flag at Afghanistan’s Kabul embassy has been lowered and ‘almost all’ staff have been transferred to the airport, the US State Department said.

The US Department of State and US Department of Defense said in a joint statement that they are completing a series of steps to secure the Hamid Karzai International Airport to enable the safe departure of US and allied personnel from Afghanistan via civilian and military flights.

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“Over the next 48 hours, we will have expanded our security presence to nearly 6,000 troops, with a mission focused solely on facilitating these efforts and will be taking over air traffic control,” the statement added.

The statement added that US will be transferring out of the country thousands of American citizens who have been resident in Afghanistan, as well as locally employed staff of the US mission in Kabul and their families and other particularly vulnerable Afghan nationals.

Some 4,200 people remained in the US embassy until Thursday, when the Taliban’s rapid gains forced the Biden administration to begin flying in thousands of troops to help pull many of the remaining diplomats out.

The US’ original mission in Afghanistan, launched to oust al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, had been fulfilled, Blinken said, saying Washington had prevented further attacks by militants harbored by the Taliban.

- with Reuters

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