Biden: Evacuations in Kabul accelerate amid “severe” threats | Taliban news

US President Joe Biden pledged his “unwavering commitment” to remove unsustainable American and Afghan citizens from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, but warned of obstacles ahead, including the threat of an attack by the Islamic State group.

“Let me be clear, evacuating thousands from Kabul will be difficult and painful” and will be “no matter when it begins,” Biden said at a White House news briefing on Sunday.

“We have a long way to go and there is still a lot we can go wrong,” the US president said, referring to the threat of an attack by the Islamic State affiliate in Khorasan Province (ISKP) in particular.

Biden said he directed the State Department to contact Americans stranded in Afghanistan by phone, email and other means, and said Washington had a plan to get them to the airport.

“We are implementing a plan to move groups of these Americans to a safe location and move them safely and effectively to the airport complex. For security reasons, I won’t go into details,” he said. “But I will say again today what I said before: Any American who wants to go home will go home.” “.

(Al Jazeera)

He said Afghan allies of the West and Afghans at risk, such as activists and journalists, would be helped.

“Take us with you”

Biden said that since August 14, the US-led airlift has evacuated 28,000 people. That includes 11,000 people who left Kabul in a 36-hour period this weekend, he said, but did not give details.

Tens of thousands of people continue to join the airlift, which has been slowed by security issues and US bureaucratic hurdles.

On Sunday, Taliban fighters beat thousands who were desperate to flee outside Kabul airport, but witnesses said they did not see anyone seriously injured. Britain’s Ministry of Defense said seven Afghans were killed in a stampede at the gates on Sunday, while a NATO official said at least 20 people had been killed in the past seven days in and around the airport. Witnesses said the victims were killed by gunshot wounds or in the stampede.

A journalist, who was among a group of media workers and academics lucky enough to get to the airport on Sunday, described desperate scenes of people surrounding a bus on their way.

“They were showing us their passports and shouting ‘Take us with you… Please take us with you,'” the journalist told AFP.

“The Taliban fighter in the truck in front of us had to shoot them in the air to get them away.”

In distress caused by the evacuation, an Afghan woman went into labor on a US Air Force plane and gave birth to a baby girl in the plane’s cargo room moments after landing at a base in Germany, the Air Mobility Command said.

The US military currently controls air traffic on both the civilian and military sides of the airport, and Biden asserted, without fully explaining, that US forces have been able to improve access to the airport for Americans and others seeking flights. He noted that the perimeter had been extended, to expand the “safe zone”.

Asked by a reporter if the US would extend the August 31 evacuation deadline, Biden replied, “Hopefully we won’t have to extend but there will be discussions I doubt how far we’ll go with that process.”

ISKP ‘Acute’ Threat

Earlier on Sunday, senior US officials said the Pentagon was studying “innovative ways” to get Americans and others into Kabul airport for evacuation amid concerns about security threats from Afghan armed groups, including the Islamic State in Kosovo, which may try to exploit the chaos. Surrounding Kabul Airport. airport.

“The threat is real, acute, and persistent, and it’s something we focus on with every tool in our arsenal,” said Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser.

He told CNN’s State of the Union that US commanders are using a “variety of capabilities” to defend against a potential attack.

“It’s something we give the highest priority to stopping or disabling,” Sullivan said. “And we will do everything we can as long as we are on the ground to prevent this from happening. But we are taking it deadly seriously.”

In a notice on Sunday, the US State Department urged people seeking to leave Afghanistan as part of an organized special evacuation effort not to come to Kabul airport “until you have received specific instructions” to do so from the US Embassy’s tour operator. The notice said that others, including US citizens, who had received specific instructions from the embassy to go to the airport, should do so.

The central problem with the evacuation process is the treatment of evacuees once they reach other countries in the region and in Europe. These temporary stations, including in Qatar, Bahrain and Germany, sometimes reach full capacity, although new locations are provided, including in Spain.

In an effort to mitigate this and free up military aircraft for missions from Kabul, the Pentagon on Sunday activated the Civilian Reserve Air Fleet.

The US Department of Defense said that 18 aircraft from American Airlines, Atlas Air, Delta Airlines, Omni Air, Hawaiian Airlines and United Airlines will be directed to transport evacuees from temporary route stations. Airlines will not fly to Afghanistan.

Taliban resistance

The crisis in Afghanistan has seen growing criticism of the United States and its Western allies, who this year have continued to withdraw troops as the government and security forces struggle to contain rising Taliban violence.

G7 leaders will discuss the situation at a virtual summit on Tuesday.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who called the meeting, said the leaders would discuss ways to “ensure safe evacuations, prevent a humanitarian crisis and support the Afghan people”.

Sources told Reuters news agency that Britain intends to push world leaders to consider imposing new sanctions on the Taliban when the Group of Seven meets. Biden said he would support that effort, depending on the behavior of the Taliban.

Leaders of the armed group, who have sought to show a more moderate face since the capture of Kabul, began talks about forming a government.

They face opposition from forces in northern Afghanistan, which this week said they had captured three districts near the Panjshir Valley.

Anti-Taliban leader Ahmed Masoud said on Sunday he hoped to hold peace talks with the movement but his forces in Panjshir – remnants of army units, special forces and militias – were ready to fight.

He said: “We want to make the Taliban realize that the only way forward is through negotiations.” “We don’t want a war to break out.”

On its Arabic Twitter account on Sunday, the Taliban said it was send Hundreds of fighters entered the valley after “local state officials refused to hand it over peacefully.”

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