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Sabtu, 14 Agustus 2021

Australian military to evacuate hundreds from Afghanistan as Taliban heads toward assault on Kabul - ABC News

Australian military will embark on a dangerous mission to urgently evacuate hundreds of people from Afghanistan, with the Taliban soon expected to launch an all-out assault on the Afghan capital.

RAAF planes are expected to arrive in Kabul as early as this week to begin the evacuation, which will be coordinated with the arrival of US and British security forces.

The ABC can reveal the hastily organised "air bridge" mission will also likely involve Australian customs and immigration personnel, as well as consular and foreign service officers.

Among those to be evacuated will be Afghan interpreters and contractors who served alongside Australian Defence Force troops.

Australians working for Afghan and international charities and non-government organisations will also be offered evacuation, as well as journalists and some dual citizens.

Australia quietly withdrew the last of its defence and civilian personnel from Afghanistan on June 18 despite serious doubts about the strategic wisdom of the retreat.

The decision to withdraw was made by the National Security of Cabinet on or about May 12, just days after Foreign Minister Marise Payne had met President Ashraf Ghani and "affirmed Australia's support for the Afghanistan government and people during this time of change for the country".

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As the ABC revealed last month, the government has been considering re-establishing a presence in Afghanistan to monitor the resurgence of the Taliban.

But the speed with which the insurgents have retaken much of Afghanistan's north, west and southern provinces has shocked Western allies.

The Taliban has taken the second- and third-largest cities in Afghanistan, Herat and Kandahar, and on Friday the Taliban captured Tarin Kot, the base for Australian forces for more than a decade.

US President Joe Biden has faced international and domestic criticism for America's hasty retreat from Afghanistan, with British defence secretary Ben Wallace saying it risked returning the war-torn country to a breeding ground for terrorism.

The Taliban's breakneck advance towards Kabul has forced a rethink from the US on its continued diplomatic presence in Afghanistan.

The US will deploy 3,000 troops to secure evacuations of US embassy staff from Kabul's green zone. Britain will do the same, sending about 600 troops on a short-term mission, and Canada will dispatch special force soldiers.

Mr Biden was never enthusiastic about the Afghanistan war, saying the US objective "to degrade the terrorist threat and keep Afghanistan from becoming a base from which attacks could be continued against the United States" had been achieved.

"We did not go to Afghanistan to nation-build," the US President said last month.

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2021-08-14 12:52:07Z
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