- President Joe Biden announced the deployment of 5,000 more US troops to Afghanistan.
- In recent days and weeks, city after city has fallen to the Taliban in a rapid takeover.
- Biden said in a statement the troops will ensure "an orderly and safe drawdown of US personnel."
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President Joe Biden announced Saturday afternoon he would deploy roughly 5,000 US troops to Afghanistan amid a rapid Taliban takeover of major Afghan cities.
"I have authorized the deployment of approximately 5,000 US troops to make sure we can have an orderly and safe drawdown of US personnel and other allied personnel and an orderly and safe evacuation of Afghans who helped our troops during our mission and those at special risk from the Taliban advance," Biden said in a statement released by the White House.
Biden also said the White House has conveyed to Taliban representatives in Doha, Qatar, that "any action on their part on the ground in Afghanistan, that puts US personnel or our mission at risk there, will be met with a swift and strong US military response."
Afghanistan's fourth-largest city, Mazar-i-Sharif, fell to the Taliban earlier on Saturday, leaving just two major cities under government control: Kabul and Jalalabad. Earlier in the week Herat and Kandahar, the country's second- and third-largest cities, also fell to the insurgents.
The Taliban's lightning-quick advance has resulted in a takeover of half of the country's 34 provincial capitals, and more than two-thirds of the country entirely.
The US military has estimated that the Taliban could take Kabul within 30 days, and seize the remainder of the country within several months.
In Biden's Saturday statement, he defended his decision to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan, saying he was the "fourth president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan," and would not pass the war on to a fifth.
He also blamed his predecessor, President Donald Trump, whom he accused of cutting a deal "that left the Taliban in the strongest position militarily since 2001 and imposed a May 1, 2021 deadline on US forces."
In a statement on Friday, Trump asked "DO YOU MISS ME YET?" in part referring to the "tragic mess in Afghanistan."