On Thursday, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul urged American citizens to leave Afghanistan immediately, a second security alert issued in less than a week.
“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 alert points out that domestic flights and ground transportation outside Kabul are severely limited and subject to cancellation or closure. The embassy asked citizens to enroll in the Safe Traveler Enrollment Program to receive security updates and contact the embassy in an emergency.
The alert also states U.S. citizens should not “plan to rely on U.S. government flights.”
On August 7, the embassy issued a similar alert. Last month, the embassy also issued two alerts, but the embassy only asked citizens to “exercise caution” and “consider departing” at the time.
The situation in Afghanistan has been deteriorating rapidly recently. On Thursday, the Taliban militant group captured Ghazni, a strategic city fewer than 100 miles from Kabul. That’s the 10th city taken over by the group in about a week, and the world fears that Kabul—the capital of Afghanistan—would fall into the Taliban’s hands very soon.
President Joe Biden has been questioned for his decision in May to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan rapidly.
“I do not regret my decision,” Biden told reporters in Washington on Tuesday, saying that the United States lost thousands of personnel during the past 20 years.
Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said that the United States would maintain support for Afghanistan but would complete the withdraw by the end of August.
“Our focus, right now, remains on supporting the Afghan forces in the field where and when it is feasible from the air, as well as completing our drawdown in a safe and orderly way,” Kirby said on Wednesday. “We are on track to do that by the end of the month.”
Kirby stressed that this is an Afghan responsibility to fight the Taliban.
“It really is going to come down to their leadership. … They have the advantage in numbers in operational structure, in air forces, and in modern weaponry,” he said. “It’s really about having the will in the leadership to use those advantages to their own benefit.”
Former President Donald Trump said Thursday that “it would have been a much different and much more successful withdrawal” if he were in office.
In a statement, the former president said he “personally had discussions with top Taliban leaders” and they understand it would have been a “conditions-based withdrawal.”
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.