India will temporarily close its consulate in Afghanistan’s northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, as the Taliban announced launching an offensive there, all diplomats will be evacuated, a source in the Indian government told Sputnik News Agency.
“India to temporarily close down its consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif in Afghanistan. All diplomats there to be evacuated today in a special flight,” the source said.
All Indian nationals staying in Mazar-e-Sharif will be taken home on this special flight, the Indian Consulate General in Mazar-e-Sharif said.
(1/2) A special flight is leaving from Mazar-e-Sharif to New Delhi. Any Indian nationals in and around Mazar-e-Sharif are requested to leave for India in the special flight scheduled to depart late today evening.
— India in Mazar (@IndianConsMazar) August 10, 2021
“A special flight is leaving from Mazar-e-Sharif to New Delhi. Any Indian nationals in and around Mazar-e-Sharif are requested to leave for India in the special flight scheduled to depart late today evening,” the consulate wrote on Twitter.
Earlier, the US defense chief believes the security situation in Afghanistan is moving in the wrong direction but that the government forces are capable of holding back the Taliban onslaught, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said on Monday.
“The [US Defense] Secretary [Lloyd Austin] shares the concern of the international community about the security situation in Afghanistan, which is clearly not going in the right direction,” Kirby said at a press briefing.
“The Secretary continues to believe that the Afghan forces have the capability, they have the capacity to make a big difference on the battlefield.”
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Monday that Tehran is concerned about the latest developments in Afghanistan and will make every effort at the regional and international levels to contribute to peace in the country,
The remark came in the wake of the Taliban claiming to have taken control of a number of provincial capitals, with the first one – Zaranj, the center of Nimruz – said to be seized on Friday. Kabul has denied the Taliban’s advances.
“Iran is deeply concerned about the developments in Afghanistan … Iran is using all its capabilities at the regional and international level to achieve peace in Afghanistan,” Khatibzadeh said, as quoted by the state-run ISNA news agency.
Tehran has repeatedly expressed readiness to facilitate peace in the neighboring country. Last month, Iran hosted a meeting between delegations of the Afghan government and the Taliban.