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Pentagon to send troops to evacuate embassy staff from Afghanistan

The Pentagon will send troops to Afghanistan's international airport to facilitate a partial evacuation of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, the State Department announced Thursday.

Why it matters: The Taliban has captured 12 provincial capitals in the last week, stunning Biden administration officials who did not believe the Afghan government would collapse so quickly during the U.S. withdrawal.

  • A new U.S. intelligence assessment suggests that Kabul could fall to the Taliban within 30 to 90 days — a stark revision from a previous assessment that the capital could possibly fall six to 12 months after the U.S. military's full withdrawal.
  • The U.S. Embassy issued its second security alert in five days urging American citizens in Afghanistan to leave the country "immediately."

State of play: State Department spokesman Ned Price said the U.S. would be "further reducing our civilian footprint in Kabul" due to the deteriorating security situation, but that the embassy would remain open.

  • "We expect to draw down to a core diplomatic presence in Afghanistan in the coming weeks," he said.
  • Price said staff who could perform their duties from afar or who weren't needed for the embassy's "core functions" would be relocated. "This is not a full evacuation," he said.
  • Pressed on whether the embassy would remain in its current location, Price said that it would for now but wouldn't say whether that could change in the near future. There have been reports that the embassy could be moved to a more secure location, like the airport.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated.

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