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US soldiers heading towards a helicopter in Kunduz, Afghanistan
The US military is slated to leave Afghanistan in less than five monthsImage: Brian Harris/Planet Pix/ZUMA/picture alliance

US embassy staff members leave Kabul

April 28, 2021

The US said there has been "increasing violence and threats" as its troops begin to leave Afghanistan after a two-decade war. Washington said it would maintain an embassy even after the military left.


The US State Department on Tuesday ordered some of its remaining staff to leave its embassy in Kabul as the US prepares to pull its troops out of the country.

Ross Wilson, the acting US ambassador to Afghanistan, said on Twitter that the decision was made "in light of increasing violence and threat reports in Kabul."

Wilson added there would be no reduction in services offered. He said the employee reduction "ensures that American diplomacy and support for Afghanistan will be sustainable, robust and effective."

The consular alert message said the decision affected "employees whose functions can be performed elsewhere."

The State Department order came two days after General Austin Miller, the US' top general in Afghanistan, said the military had begun closing operations in the country and thatAfghanistan's security forces needed to be ready to take over the security responsibilities.

Leaving after two decades

US President Joe Biden had announced that the remaining US troops, currently about 2,500, would leave the country by September 11. That is the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.

While the official start of the US and NATO troop withdrawal was supposed to be May 1, Miller said the pullout had already begun.

General Kenneth McKenzie, head of the US Central Command, said the US was committed to keeping a functioning embassy in Kabul.

Afghanistan: The resurgent Taliban

"It is our intention to maintain an embassy in Afghanistan going forward. But we'll have a very, very minimal military presence there – that which is strictly necessary to defend the embassy," said McKenzie in remarks to the American Enterprise Institute.

Still no deal with Taliban

The pullout is taking place despite the Taliban and the Afghan government not agreeing to a peace deal. The Taliban harbored Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist network, which prompted the US invasion shortly after the 2001 terrorist attack.

Talks, which have been at a standstill for some time, will not resume between the two sidesuntil next month, raising concerns that the US and NATO withdrawal may restart a civil war in the conflict-stricken country.

The US special envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, warned in a Senate hearing that US aid to the country could be cut if human rights are not respected, especially for women and children.

Afghan women fear setbacks

"We have said that if they do want US assistance, if they want international acceptance, they want to end their pariah status … those things will be affected by how they treat their own citizens – first and foremost, women of Afghanistan, children and minorities," said Khalilzad.

He also warned that the Taliban would "face isolation, regional opposition, sanctions and international opprobrium" if the Taliban seized power from the government.

kbd/sri (AFP, AP)

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