The Lowdown Hub

The US forces to withdraw from Afghanistan before Biden’s deadline.

The Pentagon is facing the challenge of dismantling more than 20 years of intelligence infrastructure from Afghanistan, AFGHAN MINISTRY OF DEFENSE PRESS OFFICE/AP

The withdrawal of US and Nato forces from Afghanistan is set to be completed by mid-July to bring a quicker end to America’s longest war than President Biden’s September 11 deadline.

Pulling out the remaining 3,500 US troops is proving easier than the Pentagon imagined but the accelerated pace is raising numerous security challenges, leading several western embassies to close or scale back operations.

Biden is also coming under pressure to evacuate thousands of Afghans and their family members who assisted US forces as translators and in other roles. The State Department has said that about 18,000 people applied for special immigrant visas to the US and many are still awaiting approval.

The defence of key cities and towns as well as several airports from Taliban takeover remains a main concern, as does the positioning of US troops in the region to provide rapid response to any terrorist threats from a resurgent al-Qaeda.

Australia announced plans to shut its embassy in Kabul this week due to security concerns while other embassies have sent home non-essential personnel, warned their nationals against travelling to Afghanistan and urged those in the country to consider leaving. The US embassy last month ordered home non-essential workers.

The Biden administration has yet to say whether US warplanes and drones will continue to provide air support to Afghan government forces in their fight against the Taliban.