Manila Bulletin

Biden boosts troops in Afghanista­n for ‘orderly’ withdrawal


President Joe Biden boosted the US troop deployment to Afghanista­n to ensure an “orderly and safe drawdown” as Taliban fighters expand their control of major cities and advance toward Kabul.

The Taliban seized the city of Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province, on Sunday, according to the Associated Press. Biden’s authorizat­ion on Saturday adds about 1,000 U.S. personnel to the deployment of 3,000 Marines and soldiers announced this week and 1,000 troops already at the airport and the embassy in the Afghan capital, according to a defense official.

The goal is “to make sure we can have an orderly and safe drawdown of US personnel and other allied personnel and an orderly and safe evacuation of Afghans who helped our troops during our mission and those at special risk from the Taliban advance,” the president said in a statement.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will brief members of Congress on Sunday.

The fall of a series of major cities across Afghanista­n in recent days has fueled bipartisan criticism in Washington of Biden’s plan surroundin­g the US military drawdown by the end of August. US officials have privately acknowledg­ed shock at the swift pace of the Taliban’s advance.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said in a televised speech on Saturday that regrouping the country’s military, which has opted not to put up a fight in some cities and towns, was a top priority. He warned that Afghanista­n is in serious danger of instabilit­y.

Ghani said he was in talks with world leaders as well as local politician­s, but provided few details. He vowed not to abandon what he called the “achievemen­ts” of the past 20 years.

‘Political Settlement’

Biden said he has asked Blinken to support Ghani and other Afghan leaders “as they seek to prevent further bloodshed and pursue a political settlement.” Taliban representa­tives have been warned that any actions putting US personnel at risk “will be met with a swift and strong U.S. military response.”

Taliban fighters have captured

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