The UK will deploy around 600 troops to Afghanistan to help Britons and local translators flee the country. Amid the Taliban’s whirlwind advance, the US is also putting boots on the ground to assist with evacuations.
British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace announced the deployment on Thursday, stating that the troops would “support the diplomatic presence in Kabul, assist British nationals to leave the country and support the relocation of former Afghan staff who risked their lives serving alongside us.”
The troops, he said, would be in Afghanistan on a “short-term basis.”
Earlier, the US State Department announced similar measures, cutting staff at the American embassy in Kabul down to a “core diplomatic presence” and evacuating the rest with the help of some 3,000 military personnel. The embassy advised all other Americans in Afghanistan to leave “immediately.”
The hurried evacuation comes after US forces began their withdrawal from the war-torn country in May, and the British combat mission there wound down a month later. In the wake of the pullout, the Taliban have stormed across the country, retaking in mere weeks territory held by the US- and British-backed Afghan government for nearly two decades.
As the UK and US announced their evacuation plans, the Taliban on Thursday claimed to have seized control of the cities of Herat and Kandahar, which would mean the Taliban now controls 12 of the country’s provincial capitals and around two-thirds of its land. The militants captured Ghazni earlier in the day, which sits just 150km (95 miles) from Kabul.