US to send troops to help evacuate personnel in Afghanistan, as Kandahar becomes latest city to fall

By Melissa Mahtani, Melissa Macaya, Maureen Chowdhury, Veronica Rocha, Meg Wagner, Steve George and Brad Lendon, CNN

Updated 11:42 a.m. ET, August 13, 2021
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3:09 p.m. ET, August 12, 2021

US sending about 3,000 troops to Afghanistan to aid departure of diplomats

From CNN's Barbara Starr

About 3,000 US troops will go into Afghanistan to assist with any departure of US diplomats and any possible evacuations, a US defense official tells CNN.

The troops will provide security for US personnel. 

“The military will be there to help effect an orderly and a safe reduction in our personnel. I do expect that the military will help with these relocation operations but as we know, Hamid Karzai International Airport does remain open, commercial flights continue to take off and land at the airport. So the military is not the only way in or out of Afghanistan,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said at a State department briefing Thursday. 

Price rejected the notion that the drawdown was a prelude to an evacuation.

“This is not a full evacuation,” he said. “I think it's a very important distinction between planning and contingency planning.”

3:06 p.m. ET, August 12, 2021

US urges Americans to leave Afghanistan "immediately"

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

The US Embassy in Kabul again urged American citizens to leave Afghanistan “immediately” amid rapid Taliban gains in the country.

It is the second such security alert in less than a week urging the immediate departure of US citizens.

“The U.S. Embassy urges U.S. citizens to leave Afghanistan immediately using available commercial flight options,” the embassy said Thursday, noting that Americans who cannot afford to purchase airline tickets should contact the embassy “for information regarding a repatriation loan.”

The embassy issued its alert as the Taliban continued its assault, seizing major cities and capitols, dealing blow after blow to the Afghan government, its army and the US and its allies who trained Afghan forces.

The Taliban wave comes just weeks before US troops are scheduled to complete their withdrawal, with US intelligence agencies forecasting that within months, if not weeks, Kabul could be isolated, and perhaps fall, raising questions about the security of the US embassy and other foreign missions in Kabul.