Biden to give public update on situation in Afghanistan
The US military is considering “creative ways” to bring Americans and others into Kabul International Airport for an evacuation from Afghanistan amid “acute” security threats, officials said. ‘Biden administration.
As the Pentagon on Sunday ordered six U.S. commercial airlines to help move evacuees from temporary sites outside of Afghanistan.
A week after the Taliban completed their takeover of the country, US officials expressed growing concern over the threat of an evacuation from the so-called Islamic State (IS).
This concern adds to the obstacles to the Taliban’s mission, as well as to the bureaucratic problems of the US government.
US President Joe Biden planned to provide a public update on the situation in Afghanistan on Sunday. He was also meeting with his national security team.
And Afghanistan will be the main topic of discussion when leaders of the Group of Seven industrialized countries, including Mr. Biden, meet virtually on Tuesday.
“The threat is real, it is acute, it is persistent and on which we are focusing with all the tools in our arsenal,” said Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan.
Speaking on CNN’s State Of The Union show, Sullivan said 3,900 people had been airlifted out of Kabul on US military flights in the past 24 hours.
A US defense official said those people were carried on a total of 23 flights – 14 by C-17 transports and nine in C-130 cargo planes.
This was an increase from the 1,600 planes flown on U.S. military jets in the previous 24 hours, but still well below the 5,000 to 9,000 that the military said it has the capacity to airlift on a daily basis. .
Mr Sullivan also said about 3,900 people were airlifted on non-US military flights in the past 24 hours.
The Biden administration has given no precise estimate of the number of Americans seeking to leave Afghanistan. Some put the total between 10,000 and 15,000. Mr. Sullivan put it at “several thousand”.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has acknowledged the desperate situation at Kabul airport.
“We have seen these heartbreaking scenes of people crowded at the doors. People injured, people killed. It’s an incredibly volatile situation and we’re very focused on it, ”he said on CBS’s Face The Nation.
Britain’s Defense Ministry said on Sunday that seven more people were killed in the relentless crushing of crowds outside the airport.
The US military took control of the airport for evacuations a week ago as the capital fell to the Taliban.
But Taliban forces controlling the streets around the airport and the crowds of people gathered outside in the hope of escaping made passage difficult and dangerous for foreigners and their Afghan allies.
Republicans in Congress have stepped up their criticism of Mr Biden’s response and called for the addition of US troops to help Americans get safely to the airport so they can leave.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told ABC’s This Week that as the August 31 deadline set by Mr Biden to end the evacuation operation approaches, he would recommend giving him more time.
Tens of thousands of Americans and others have yet to leave the country by air.
US officials have reported growing concerns about security threats at the airport from militants affiliated with ISIS.
The U.S. Embassy on Saturday warned citizens not to go to the airport without individual instruction from a U.S. government official.
Mr Austin said the airlift will continue for as long as possible.
“We’re going to do our best to get everyone out, every American citizen who wants to get out,” he said.
“And we have – we keep looking for different ways of – in a creative way, to reach out and contact American citizens and help them get into the airfield.”
He later said that included non-Americans who qualified for the evacuation, including Afghans who had applied for special immigrant visas.
Mr Austin noted that the US military on Thursday used helicopters to move 169 Americans to the airport from the grounds of a nearby hotel in the capital.
A central problem in the evacuation operation is the treatment of evacuees once they reach other countries in the region and in Europe. These temporary stations, notably in Qatar, Bahrain and Germany, sometimes reach their maximum capacity, although new sites are made available, notably in Spain.
In an attempt to mitigate this and free up military planes for missions from Kabul, the Pentagon activated the civilian reserve air fleet on Sunday.
The Defense Department said 18 planes from American Airlines, Atlas Air, Delta Air Lines, Omni Air, Hawaii Airlines and United Airlines would be directed to transport evacuees from intermediate stations. Airlines would not fly to Afghanistan.
The six participating airlines have agreed to help for just under two weeks, which roughly coincides with the currently scheduled duration of the airlift, which is due to end on August 31.
The civilian airline reserve system was last activated in 2003 for the Iraq war. Commercial airliners will retain their civilian status, but the Army’s Air Mobility Command will control flights.