Report: US officials on alert as Taliban reasserts itself across Afghanistan in absence of US troops

The Taliban has reached what the Washington Examiner describes as a “milestone military victory” as U.S. forces continue their withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Citing State Department officials said to be “alarmed by the worsening security crisis,” the Examiner reported Saturday that the Taliban has seen a string of wins on Afghan soil, including capturing two provincial capitals this week, Zaranj and Sheberghan.

The victories come as the U.S. continues pulling its troops out of Afghanistan. Some 95% of American soldiers have already left the region, the Examiner reported separately.

The withdrawal has apparently emboldened Taliban forces — and now, the U.S. State Department is concerned about continuing violence to come.

“Security conditions”

They’re so concerned, in fact, that the U.S. embassy in Afghanistan has warned American citizens to leave the country “immediately.” In a security alert Saturday, officials said the best way to leave is via a commercial flight.

“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 reads in part.

“Domestic flights and ground transportation routes outside of Kabul are severely limited and subject to cancellation or closure,” it adds. “The U.S. Embassy can provide a repatriation loan for U.S. citizens who cannot afford at this time to purchase a commercial ticket to the United States.”

The embassy also renewed its travel advisory to Afghanistan, citing “crime, terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping, armed conflict, and COVID-19.”

“Wanton disregard”

It all comes as violence from the Taliban reaches new heights. Earlier this week, for example, the Taliban killed eight people in an attempted bombing of Afghanistan’s defense minister, the Examiner reported.

On Friday, the Taliban assassinated Afghanistan’s top press official. And on Saturday, the Taliban was responsible for another car bombing that left at least one dead and several others injured, according to reports.

The U.S. embassy, for its part, has condemned the attacks on Afghan cities as well as on Afghan government officials, saying the terror group’s actions “demonstrate wanton disregard for the welfare and rights of civilians and will worsen this country’s humanitarian crisis.”

In response to the latest violence, U.S. officials called for those involved “to agree to a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire and to engage fully in peace negotiations to end the suffering of the Afghan people and pave the way for an inclusive political settlement that benefits all Afghans and ensures that Afghanistan does not again serve as a safe haven for terrorists.” By the looks of things, though, it seems unlikely the Taliban will agree to this.

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