The US State Department said on Tuesday that it ordered some staff to leave the embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, as part of the Biden administration’s preparation to withdraw troops from the country. A State Department spokesperson told CNN that embassy employees “whose functions can be performed elsewhere” were ordered to leave Kabul.
“By minimizing the number of employees in Afghanistan whose functions can be performed elsewhere, personnel who are urgently needed to address issues related to the drawdown of US forces and to continue the vital work we are doing in support of Afghanistan and its people will be able to remain in place,” the spokespersons said.
The spokesperson also said the order only affects “a relatively small number of employees” and that there would be no changes in operations at the embassy. Biden officials have suggested that a small troop presence could be maintained in the country to protect the diplomatic mission.
President Biden ordered the troop withdrawal to begin on May 1st. Since he broke the US-Taliban peace deal by extending the withdrawal deadline to September 11th, the US is deploying additional forces to the country over fears of renewed Taliban attacks, which could explain the embassy drawdown.
No US troops have died in combat since the US-Taliban peace deal was signed in February 2020. By breaking the agreement, President Biden did little but put US personnel at risk.
Pentagon officials told CNN on Monday that the US was deploying an additional 650 troops to Afghanistan. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has also approved the deployment of B-52 bombers to the region and ordered the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower to stay in the Gulf region.