On ABC’s “This Week,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday that U.S. personnel are being relocated from the U.S. Embassy in Kabul to the airport “to ensure they can operate safely and securely,” but still maintain a core diplomatic presence there.
Senior Foreign Correspondent Ian Pannell said Sunday that he could hear American Chinook helicopters flying overheard and ferrying people out to the airport so that they could leave the country.
“There’s a real climate of fear and dread of what the future holds,” Pannell told “This Week” co-anchor Jonathan Karl.
“The situation in Afghanistan is rapidly evolving and poses serious challenges to our ability to ensure the safety and security of our mission,” according to a statement.
“As always, our priority in these situations is ensuring the safety and security of Canadian personnel. They are now safely on their way back to Canada,” the statement continued.
The U.S. State Department announced Thursday it was reducing its staff levels at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and the Pentagon began sending in troops to help facilitate those departures. The president on Saturday authorized an additional 1,000 U.S. troops for deployment to Afghanistan, raising the number of troops to 5,000 to assist with “orderly and safe drawdown.”
Early Sunday, the Taliban entered the outskirts of Kabul and fighters were seen gathering in the Kabul districts of Kampany and Barchi, a local reporter confirmed to ABC News.
They have assured residents that their lives are not in danger and a Taliban spokesman told ABC News that the Taliban leaders have ordered their troops not to take over Kabul by force for now but to “remain at the gates.”
President Ashraf Ghani’s official Twitter account reported that gunshots were heard in remote areas of Kabul province, but that “the situation is under control.”
The Taliban entered the outskirts of the city early Sunday and fighters were seen gathering in the Kabul districts of Kampany and Barchi, a local reporter confirmed to ABC News. Officials told the Associated Press that there were also Taliban fighters in the districts of Kalakan, Qarabagh and Paghman.
Russia is ready to cooperate with a “transitional government” that would include the Taliban and members of the current government, the Russian Embassy in Kabul reportedly said, according to the state news agency TASS. The embassy also said the resignation of Ghani was a condition for the Taliban not storming Kabul.
President Joe Biden, spending the weekend at Camp David, has received another briefing from his national security team on the latest developments in Afghanistan and will be briefed throughout the day, a White House official told ABC News.
Members of Congress were also receiving virtual briefings on Afghanistan from Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, according to congressional sources familiar with the matter.
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul instructed all U.S. personnel to destroy items like documents and electronic devices to “reduce the amount of sensitive material on the property,” according to an internal notice obtained by ABC News.
“Please also include items with embassy or agency logos, Americans flags, or items which could be misused in propaganda efforts,” the notice said