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U.S. begins evacuating embassy staff from Kabul as Taliban closes in on Afghan capital

The U.S. began evacuating diplomats from the American embassy in Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, on Sunday, per images from the scene and multiple reports.

Driving the news: Helicopters began landing near the embassy to conduct "rapid shuttle-run flights" a few hours after the Taliban captured the key eastern city of Jalalabad early on Sunday, leaving Kabul the only major city still under the control of the Afghan government, per AP.

  • A U.S. official told Reuters on Sunday morning, "We have a small batch of people leaving now as we speak, a majority of the staff are ready to leave ... the embassy continues to function. The embassy continues to function."
  • AP reports "diplomatic armored SUVs" were leaving the area and "wisps of smoke" were seen near the roof of the embassy "as diplomats urgently destroyed sensitive documents."

What they're saying: The U.S. Embassy in Kabul tweeted, "Amb. Tracey Jacobson is in charge of a whole-of-government effort to process, transport, & relocate SIV applicants & other Afghan allies."

The big picture: President Biden Biden on Saturday ordered 1,000 more troops to secure an airlift of U.S. Embassy personnel and Afghan allies as the Taliban closed in on the Afghan capital.

  • Marines arrived in Kabul on Saturday to help secure an airlift of U.S. Embassy personnel, per AP.
  • Representatives for the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and the State Department did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

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