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Pentagon To Send 1,000 More Troops To Aid Afghanistan

DON GONYEA, HOST:

The Taliban are at the presidential palace in Kabul. The U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan is shuttered. A small group of U.S. diplomats is now working out of a makeshift office at Kabul's airport. And even there, the security situation is dicey. We're joined now by NPR national security correspondent Greg Myre. Hey, Greg.

GONYEA: Hi, Mary Louise.

GONYEA: How dicey? What is the security situation at the airport?

GREG MYRE, BYLINE: Well, some video that we're seeing seems to sum it up. You're seeing huge crowds of Afghans milling about the tarmac, trying to get on planes, sort of looks like a crowd control operation, at least in some of these videos. There were reports during the day Sunday of gunfire. Seems - doesn't seem to be an imminent, urgent problem at the moment, but it just contributes to that - an uncertain situation. As we understand it, the airport is mostly or entirely closed to civilian flights at this point, but military planes are being allowed to come and go. The U.S. has warned the Taliban not to attack the airport or this airlift operation, and the Taliban have indicated they won't. And indeed, it is in their interest to let the Americans and others to fly out. But this is likely to involve tens of thousands of evacuees and presumably will take a couple of days.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Now, the U.S., having decided to pull all U.S. troops out, is now sending troops back in to try to help. How many American military are on the ground there now?

MYRE: Well, it keeps growing by the day. The Pentagon announced that it's going to send another 1,000 troops in. And that would bring the total to 6,000. As recently as Thursday, the U.S. had just 1,000 troops that were already in country. So this is the third time in as many days where they've they've increased the number. So 6,000 now or very soon. It really reflects this situation that just has so much uncertainty and the size of the airlift that they're trying to carry out.

KELLY: Yeah. All right. So that's what the U.S. is up to. What about the Taliban? They're in Kabul? Do we know what they're doing?

MYRE: Well, they made it to the presidential palace. Al-Jazeera filmed them there, interviewed them there. They seem to be very much at home carrying their weapons around. The Taliban also say they've moved into police stations, so they can control law and order in the city. Now, it is the middle of the night there. I think Monday morning will be a very interesting moment in Kabul. It will really give a sense of how the Taliban want to present themselves to the people of the capital and how the residents will react to having the Taliban back in control.

KELLY: So much to watch for there tomorrow. NPR national security correspondent Greg Myre. Thank you, Greg.

MYRE: My pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.