Rockets target US troops as core diplomats fly out of Kabul

Kabul: U.S. anti-missile defences intercepted rockets fired at Kabul's airport on Monday as the United States flew its core diplomats ou...


Kabul: U.S. anti-missile defences intercepted rockets fired at Kabul's airport on Monday as the United States flew its core diplomats out of Afghanistan in the final hours of its chaotic withdrawal.

The last U.S. troops are due to pull out of Kabul by Tuesday, after they and their allies mounted the biggest air evacuation in history, which brought out 114,000 of their own citizens and Afghans who helped them over 20 years of war.

Two U.S. officials said the "core" diplomatic staff had withdrawn by Monday morning. They did not say whether this included top envoy Ross Wilson, expected to be among the last to leave before the final troops themselves.

A U.S. official said initial reports did not indicate any U.S. casualties from as many as five missiles fired on the airport. Islamic State - enemies of both the West and the Taliban - claimed responsibility for the rocket attacks.

The rockets followed a massive Islamic State suicide bombing outside the teeming airport gates on Thursday, which killed scores of Afghans and 13 U.S. troops.

In recent days Washington has warned of more attacks, while carrying out two air strikes. It said both hit Islamic State targets, including one on Sunday it said thwarted an attempted suicide bombing by blowing up a car packed with explosives in Kabul, but which Afghans said had struck civilians.

Tuesday's deadline for troops to leave was set by President Joe Biden, fulfilling an agreement reached with the Taliban by his predecessor Donald Trump to end Washington's longest war.

But having failed to anticipate that the Taliban would so quickly conquer the country, Washington and its NATO allies were forced into a hasty evacuation. They will leave behind thousands of Afghans who helped Western countries and might have qualified for evacuation but did not make it out in time.

The Taliban, who carried out public executions and banned girls and women from school or work when last in power 20 years ago, have said they will safeguard rights and not pursue vendettas. They say once the Americans leave, the country will at last be at peace for the first time in more than 40 years.

But countless Afghans, especially in the cities, fear for their futures. And the United Nations said the entire country now faces a dire humanitarian crisis, cut off from foreign aid amid a drought, mass displacement and COVID-19.

"The evacuation effort has undoubtedly saved tens of thousands of lives, and these efforts are praiseworthy," said UN refugee chief Filippo Grandi.

"But when the airlift and the media frenzy are over, the overwhelming majority of Afghans, some 39 million, will remain inside Afghanistan. They need us – governments, humanitarians, ordinary citizens – to stay with them and stay the course."

-News Feed

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Local Glob: Rockets target US troops as core diplomats fly out of Kabul
Rockets target US troops as core diplomats fly out of Kabul
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