Biden defends Afghanistan withdrawal after Taliban takeover

After Taliban’s rapid capture of Kabul, US president faces mounting criticism for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.

US President Joe Biden is defending his decision to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan despite the Taliban’s swift takeover of the country, saying the the United States mission “was never supposed to be about nation-building”.

In his first comments since the Taliban took control of the Afghan capital, Kabul, Biden said on Monday that the collapse of the Afghan government amid the Taliban’s rapid advance “did unfold more quickly than we anticipated”.

“I stand squarely behind my decision,” Biden said in a televised address.

“If anything, the developments of the past week reinforce that ending US military involvement in Afghanistan now was the right decision. American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves.”

Biden’s comments come after chaotic scenes at Kabul airport, where thousands of Afghans have gathered in a desperate attempt to leave the country amid the Taliban’s rapid advance.

The group on Sunday took over the Afghan presidential palace in Kabul, as well as districts across the city, just hours after President Ashraf Ghani fled, a move he later said aimed to prevent further bloodshed but was slammed by Afghans as “unpatriotic and sad“.

More to follow…