- The Washington Times - Monday, August 9, 2021

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan has issued a security alert urging American citizens who remain in the country to depart immediately, citing limited ability to assist those that remain.

The alert was issued amid a sweeping Taliban offensive beginning late last week and over the weekend, which has already resulted in the Islamist insurgency’s takeover of six provincial capitals by Monday. 

“The U.S. Embassy urges U.S. citizens to leave Afghanistan immediately using available commercial flight options,” the alert reads. “Given the security conditions and reduced staffing, the Embassy’s ability to assist U.S. citizens in Afghanistan is extremely limited even within Kabul.” 

The embassy is offering loans to those who are unable to afford the airfare out of the country. In April, the embassy ordered the departure of non-essential U.S. government employees from the diplomatic compound in Kabul, and in June heightened its travel advisory for Afghanistan to the State Department’s most critical level. 

The new guidance urged U.S. citizens to use “available commercial transportation,” and cautioned not to “plan to rely on U.S. government flights” out of country. 

“Domestic flights and ground transportation routes outside of Kabul are severely limited and subject to cancellation or closure,” the embassy said. 

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul issued a separate statement condemning the Taliban’s offensive. 

“We condemn the Taliban’s violent new offensive against Afghan cities,” the statement reads. “This includes the unlawful seizure of Zaranj, the capital of Afghanistan’s Nimroz province, the attack on Sheberghan, capital of Jowzjan province yesterday and today, and continuing efforts to take over Lashkar Gah in Helmand and provincial capitals elsewhere.” 

“These Taliban actions to forcibly impose its rule are unacceptable and contradict its claim to support a negotiated settlement in the Doha peace process,” the statement added. “They demonstrate wanton disregard for the welfare and rights of civilians and will worsen this country’s humanitarian crisis.” 

The full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan ordered by President Biden is scheduled to be complete by Sept. 11.

• Joseph Clark can be reached at jclark@washingtontimes.com.

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