President Joe Biden left for Camp David on Friday afternoon as the Taliban’s military offensive escalates in Afghanistan amid the U.S. and NATO’s troop withdrawal in the region, Fox News reports.
The Taliban, which control 12 of Afghanistan’s 34 provincial capitals, on Thursday captured Kandahar and Herat, the nation’s second- and third-largest cities.
With security rapidly deteriorating, the United States planned to send in 3,000 troops to help evacuate some personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. Separately, Britain said about 600 troops would be deployed on a short-term basis to support British nationals leaving the country, and Canada is sending special forces to help evacuate its embassy.
Thousands of Afghans have fled their homes amid fears the Taliban will again impose a brutal, repressive government, all but eliminating women’s rights and conducting public amputations, stonings and executions. Peace talks in Qatar remain stalled, though diplomats met throughout the day.
The latest U.S. military intelligence assessment suggests Kabul could come under insurgent pressure within 30 days and that, if current trends hold, the Taliban could gain full control of the country in a few months. The Afghan government may eventually be forced to pull back to defend the capital and just a few other cities in the coming days if the Taliban keep up their momentum.
Biden was briefed on the Afghanistan situation Friday, according to the White House pool.
He told reporters on Tuesday that he doesn’t regret moving to pull all troops from the region, arguing that it is time for the Afghan government to ”fight for themselves, fight for their nation.”
”I think they’re beginning to realize they’ve got to come together politically at the top … but we’re going to continue to keep our commitment. But I do not regret my decision,” he said.