US Intel Reportedly Shows Kabul Can Be 'Isolated' by Taliban Within '72 Hours' Despite DoD Prognosis
© AFP 2021 / ROB ELLIOTT In this file photo a US Marine is given a hand using barbed wire to secure the walls the US embassy in Kabul on January 11, 2002. - The United States said on August 12, 2021 it was sending troops to the international airport in Afghanistan's capital Kabul to pull out US embassy staff as the Taliban makes rapid gains."We are further reducing our civilian footprint in Kabul in light of the evolving security situation," State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters."This president prioritizes above all else the safety and security of Americans who are serving overseas," he said of Joe Biden, who has ordered a withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan after nearly 20 years.
Many countries, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Denmark and Norway, have pulled most of their diplomatic staffers out of their embassies in Kabul, as the Taliban continues to take control of increasingly large regions in Afghanistan.
The Afghan capital city of Kabul could be isolated by the Taliban* within the week, possibly even within the next 72 hours, CNN reported, citing an unnamed diplomatic source said to be familiar with a recent intelligence assessment.
The reported estimation comes amid American officials withdrawing diplomatic staffers from Kabul and instructing them, according to a management notice obtained by CNN, to destroy sensitive materials and items that could be "misused in propaganda efforts".
Americans are not the only ones leaving their embassies, with the United Kingdom, Canada, Denmark, and Norway moving to do the same, evacuating the staffers. The US, along with other countries, will deploy additional troops in the region in order to assist with the evacuation.
The American decision comes amid a Pentagon assessment that the Afghan capital city does not face "imminent threat".
"Kabul is not right now in an imminent threat environment," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters. "But clearly," he said, "if you just look at what the Taliban has been doing you can see that they are trying to isolate Kabul."
Kirby also reiterated Washington's "grave concern" over the speed with which the Taliban are moving through the country and the "lack of resistance that they have faced".
The Taliban has surged in Afghanistan since US troops began to exit the country, establishing control over at least a dozen of the country's 34 provincial capitals, including the nation's second-largest city, Kandahar. According to humanitarian officials, the militants are now operating within 50 kilometers of the capital city, with Kabul experiencing power outages and becoming "almost completely isolated".
The Norwegian Refugee Council's Afghan director also said that Afghanistan is nearing a humanitarian crisis at an unprecedented pace, with many "terrified" families fleeing to Kabul.
Assessments in regard to Kabul's fate vary, with CNN citing a Biden administration official who, referring to another intelligence assessment, said that the city could be isolated by the Taliban in the next month, or two.
The Biden administration has received criticism toward its withdrawal campaign, especially in light of the president himself in July asserting that a Taliban takeover following the American exit was "highly unlikely". Biden's predecessor in the White House, Donald Trump, joined the choir of critics, stating that Afghanistan was currently a "tragic mess" and musing on whether anyone in America had begun to miss his presence in the White House.
*The Taliban is a terrorist movement outlawed in Russia and many other countries