Denmark and Norway announce that they are closing their embassies in Afghanistan for now as Germany draws down staff in its mission amid a rapid Taliban advance across the country.

In this August 2, 2021 file photo, a military helicopter prepares to land near the parliament in Kabul, Afghanistan.
In this August 2, 2021 file photo, a military helicopter prepares to land near the parliament in Kabul, Afghanistan. (Reuters)

Denmark and Norway are temporarily closing their embassies while Germany is drastically reducing the staff at its mission amid a lightning quick Taliban advance in Afghanistan.

Danish broadcaster TV2 quoted Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod on Friday as saying that staff at the embassy in Kabul are being evacuated.

Germany’s foreign minister says his country is reducing its embassy staff in Kabul to “the operationally necessary, absolute minimum.”

Heiko Maas told reporters on Friday that a “crisis support team” is immediately being sent to the Afghan capital to increase security at the embassy. 

Norway will also temporarily close its Kabul embassy and move all staff out of Afghanistan because of the worsening security situation, its Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Friday.

"This also applies to locally employed Afghans with immediate family in Norway who wish it," Foreign Minister Ine Marie Eriksen Soreide told a press conference.

READ MORE: Taliban takes over dozen Afghan provincial capitals in lightning offensive

Another call for citizens to leave Afghanistan

Finland also announced that it would evacuate 130 staff from Kabul embassy on Friday.

Finland's Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto told a press conference that parliament ruled on Friday the country could "take in up to 130 Afghans who have worked in the service of Finland, the EU and NATO along with their families" because of "the quickly weakening security situation".

Meanwhile, France's Foreign Ministry on Friday reiterated a call for French citizens to leave Afghanistan as soon as possible.

"In light of the deteriorating security situation, we again called on French citizens last week to leave the country as soon as possible," it said in a statement in response to a written question about whether France planned to evacuate its embassy and its citizens from the country.

With security rapidly deteriorating, the United States has already said on Thursday that it planned to send in 3,000 troops to help evacuate some personnel from the US Embassy in Kabul. 

Separately, Britain said about 600 troops would be deployed on a short-term basis to support British nationals leaving the country, and Canada is sending special forces to help evacuate its embassy.

READ MORE: British politicians slam hasty US withdrawal from Afghanistan

Taliban advance continues

The Taliban completed their sweep of the country's south on Friday as they took four more provincial capitals in a lightning offensive that is gradually encircling Kabul, just weeks before the US is set to officially end its two-decade war.

In just the last 24 hours, the country's second- and third-largest cities — Herat in the west and Kandahar in the south — have fallen to the insurgents as has the capital of the southern Helmand province.

The blitz through the Taliban's southern heartland means the insurgents now hold half of Afghanistan's 34 provincial capitals and control more than two-thirds of the country — weeks before the US plans to withdraw its last troops. 

The Western-backed government in the capital, Kabul, still holds a smattering of provinces in the centre and east, as well as the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif.

READ MORE: US intel warns Taliban could capture Kabul within 90 days

Source: TRTWorld and agencies