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Biden cuts short holiday, issues stern warning to Taliban

Biden cuts short holiday, issues stern warning to Taliban

US President Joe Biden warned the Taliban on Monday that any attack on the evacuation efforts of American embassy staff and Afghan translators at the Kabul airport would get a "swift and forceful" response from the US forces.

"We will defend our people with devastating force if necessary," Biden said in a televised address.

President Joe Biden cut short his holiday to address the nation from the White House on the U.S. evacuation from Afghanistan, a day after the Taliban took control of the country. He had come under severe criticism for being on a sabbatical as Afghanistan was burning and Kabul had fallen

He admitted that the collapse of the Afghan government happened much faster than his administration expected.

Also read:  Taliban wraps up war in Afghanistan, head for full political control

“The truth is this did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated,” Biden said Monday from the White House.

The Taliban have overrun Afghanistan in a little over a week, taking the capital of Kabul on Sunday even as the United States is still in the process of withdrawing its diplomats, allies and Afghans who worked with the coalition over the course of the 20-year war.

The US has been forced to send 5,000 troops to secure the Kabul airport to ensure  safe evacuation of its personnel and Afghan translators who face death and atrocities at the hands of the Taliban. In addition, more forces are on standby at nearby Kuwait should the need arise.

Also read:  US troops fire in the air at Kabul airport as fleeing Afghans rush to planes

The president said the rapid end of the Afghan government only vindicates his choice to end the war.

“American troops cannot and should not be fighting the war, and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves,” Biden said in his address.

The President said he stands “squarely behind” his decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan.

Biden said he was faced with a choice between sticking to a previously negotiated agreement to withdraw U.S. troops this year or sending thousands more service members back into Afghanistan for a “third decade” of war.

Biden said he will not repeat mistakes of the past and did not regret his decision to proceed with the withdrawal.

The speed of the Afghan government’s collapse and the ensuing chaos posed the most serious test of Biden as commander in chief, and he was the subject of withering criticism from Republicans who said that he had failed in the task, according to US media reports.

Leading figures in the administration have now admitted that they were caught off guard with the sheer speed of the Taliban advance and collapse of Afghan security forces. The challenge has become clear after reports of sporadic gunfire at the Kabul airport prompted Americans to shelter as they awaited flights to safety after the U.S. Embassy was completely evacuated.