US, UK tell nationals to leave Afghanistan ‘immediately’

US, UK tell nationals to leave Afghanistan ‘immediately’
The US Embassy and Britain's Foreign Office have told their citizens to leave Afghanistan immediately using commercial flights as the security situation deteriorates.
3 min read
08 August, 2021
The US embassy in Kabul told citizens to leave Afghanistan immediately [Getty]

The United States and Britain have urged their citizens to leave Afghanistan, as the Taliban captured the northern city of Kunduz in a major new blow for the Afghan government.

The US Embassy in Afghanistan on Saturday told its citizens to "not plan to rely on US government flights" but evacuate the country "immediately using available commercial flight options."

“Given the security conditions and reduced staffing, the Embassy’s ability to assist US citizens in Afghanistan is extremely limited even within Kabul,” it said in a statement, adding that US nationals who cannot afford a commercial flight will receive a repatriation loan.

The State Department raised its warning against travel to Afghanistan to level 4 - the highest level - due to "crime, terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping, armed conflict and Covid-19."

In April, the State Department had ordered the departure of US government employees whose functions can be performed elsewhere.

Britain has also called on its nationals in Afghanistan to leave the country immediately due to the "worsening security situation" as fighting intensifies.

“All British nationals in Afghanistan are advised to leave now by commercial means,” the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) said in a statement on Friday.

"Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Afghanistan. Specific methods of attack are evolving and increasing in sophistication."

As US and NATO forces complete their final withdrawal from the country by the end of the month, the Taliban have now turned their guns on several provincial capitals.

Street fighting was ongoing on Sunday as the Taliban entered the centre of the northern city of Kunduz. The Taliban have taken two other provincial capitals since Friday, but Kunduz is the most significant city to fall since the insurgents launched an offensive in May as foreign forces began the final stages of their withdrawal.

On Friday the Taliban seized their first provincial capital, Zaranj in Nimroz, and followed it up a day later by taking Sheberghan in Jawzjan.

Fighting was also reported on the outskirts of Herat, in the west, and Lashkar Gah and Kandahar in the south.

The pace of Taliban advances has caught government forces flatfooted. US warplanes bombed Taliban positions in Sheberghan, the Jawzjan province capital, on Friday. Militiamen and government forces were reported to have retreated to the airport.

The United Nations envoy for Afghanistan, Deborah Lyons, has urged the Security Council to demand that the Taliban immediately stop attacking cities in their offensive to take more territory.