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Military begins reducing presence in Kabul; Biden says U.S. ‘on pace’ to meet Aug. 31 deadline

Families board a U.S. Air Force plane during an evacuation at Kabul airport Monday. (Sgt. Samuel Ruiz/U.S. Marine Corps/AP)

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The United States has begun to reduce its military presence at the Kabul airport as President Biden seeks to stick to an Aug. 31 deadline for withdrawing from Afghanistan.

Biden announced Tuesday afternoon that the United States is on track to leave Afghanistan by that date. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a statement Tuesday evening that the formal process for withdrawing troops had not been ordered but that hundreds of U.S. troops with “enabling functions” had been ordered to depart.

Kirby said their departures would have "no impact on the mission at hand.” The United States has sent thousands of additional troops to Kabul this month to assist with evacuating Americans and Afghan allies.

Here’s what to know:

  • Fighters holed up in the northern Panjshir Valley, the last part of Afghanistan still outside Taliban control, want a negotiated resolution to the standoff, an aide in the anti-Taliban stronghold said. Delegations from the two sides met Tuesday, according to another person in the fighters’ camp.
  • The United States and allied countries flew nearly 21,700 people out of Kabul in a 24-hour window ending Tuesday, the White House said. Since Aug. 14, the United States has helped evacuate 70,700 people.
  • The Taliban is still allowing foreign nationals to leave Kabul, spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said, but is stopping Afghan nationals from reaching the airport.