US looks to expedite Afghanistan evacuations ahead of self-imposed deadline

AFGHANISTAN: U.S. forces in Afghanistan are now racing to evacuate as many people from that country as possible before the end of the month, officials said Thursday, but it remains unclear how many will make it to safety before troops pull out of the country for good.

Since Taliban forces began sweeping across Afghanistan five days ago, retaking control as the country’s military and government crumbled, U.S. troops have airlifted approximately 7,000 people in the last five days, Army Maj. Gen. William Taylor told reporters at the Pentagon Thursday morning. In total, the U.S. has evacuated roughly 12,000 people since late July, Taylor said.

“We are committed to the safe evacuation of as many people as quickly and as safely as possible,” he said.

At a separate State Department briefing hours later, spokesperson Ned Price said 6,000 people who had been “fully processed by our consular team and will soon board planes” were waiting Thursday at the airport in Kabul.

President Biden has promised not to leave any American citizens behind in Afghanistan, and said Wednesday that could mean keeping troops in the country past his self-imposed deadline of Aug. 31.

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby told reporters Thursday that he didn’t know how many U.S. citizens currently remain in Afghanistan, though the Biden administration has reportedly estimated that the number is between 10,000 and 15,000.

There are also more than 80,000 Afghans who are believed to be seeking to evacuate, including more than 20,000 translators and others who worked with the U.S. military and have applied for Special Immigrant Visas.


by Daily News Sri Lanka

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