US begins evacuation of Kabul embassy

The United States has started evacuating diplomats from its embassy in Kabul, two US officials told Reuters on Sunday.

— Jack Posobiec (@JackPosobiec) August 15, 2021

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"We have a small batch of people leaving now as we speak, a majority of the staff are ready to leave...the embassy continues to function," one of the officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said.

It had been expected that the evacuation of most diplomats would begin on Sunday, as Taliban insurgents continued lightning advances that brought the Islamist group to the door of Kabul in a matter of days.US President Joe Bidenauthorizedthe deployment of about 5,000 US troops in Afghanistan to facilitate "orderly and safe drawdown" of personnel, the White House said in a statement Saturday night.

Biden ordered armed forces and the intelligence community to maintain vigilance for "future terrorist threats" from Afghanistan, the statement continued.

A US Defense official told Reuters that 4,000 of the 5,000 troops have already been approved, and the additional 1,000 will be coming from the 82nd airborne division.

Any action risking US personnel will be met with a "swift and strong" military response, Biden said in the statement.