The U.S. Department of Defense has restricted its evacuation of American personnel and Afghan civilians who worked for U.S. forces to Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport. There is a report that the U.S. government is “counting on the Taliban to help Americans and Afghans get access to the airport.” At the same time, British, German, and French special forces are going into the city of Kabul to rescue their citizens.
There have been some chaotic scenes at the Hamid Karzai International Airport ever since the Taliban captured Kabul. The U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan has instructed American citizens to go to the Kabul airport to evacuate the country. However, the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan has also warned that the “United States government cannot ensure safe passage to the Hamid Karzai International Airport.”
A Fox News report stated the 6,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan are “under strict orders” not to leave the Kabul airport to rescue Americans in the city.
“The U.S. government is counting on the Taliban to help Americans and Afghans get access to the airport,” the report added.
Fox News host Brett Baier asked Pentagon spokesman John Kirby if there was a deal with the Taliban that restricts U.S. forces from extracting Americans from the city of Kabul.
“No. There’s no deal that restricts forces to the airport but Bret, that’s where the mission is,” Kirby responded. “The troops are there for really two things. One, to keep that airport safe and secure for people and for flight operations and two, to make sure that those flight operations can go as unimpeded as possible with few delays.”
Baier pointed out that other nations, such as the U.K., reportedly used their forces to rescue their citizens.
“We have not seen any great impediments to the safe passage that the Taliban have agreed to facilitate,” Kirby replied. “Americans are getting through those checkpoints, and they are getting onto the base on the airfield, and they are being flown out of Kabul. I won’t speak to potential, future operations that may or may not be conducted. What I can tell you is that the operation that we’re conducting now, and that is to keep that airfield open and running and Americans are getting through the lines and they are getting onto planes.”
However, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said during a Wednesday news conference that the U.S. does not have “the capability to go out and collect large numbers of people.”
During his news conference Friday, President Biden was asked about sending U.S. troops into Kabul to evacuate Americans who couldn’t get to the airport.
“We have no indication that they haven’t been able to get in Kabul through the airport,” Biden replied. “We’ve made an agreement with the Taliban thus far, they’ve allowed them to go through and they’re interested in them to go through. So we know of no circumstance where American citizens are carrying an American passport are trying to get through to the airport, but we will do whatever needs to be done to see to that they get to the airport.”
Another reporter questioned Biden about the “chaos and violence” around the airport, and asked, “Are you saying unequivocally that any American who wants to get to the airport is getting there and getting past the security barrier and to the planes where they want to go?”
Biden responded, “And the answer is to the best of our knowledge, the Taliban checkpoints, they are letting through people showing American passports. Now, that’s a different question when they get into the rush and crowd of all the folks just outside the wall, near the airport.”
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said, “My office has received numerous reports of American citizens and Afghan allies being harassed, beaten, and abused by Taliban thugs. These reports are in addition to the televised scenes of chaos at the airport perimeter.”
There are reports that Afghans who worked for the U.S. are fearful of Taliban checkpoints because their previous work with Westerners makes them a prime target for retribution.
While the U.S. says it can’t or doesn’t need to go into Kabul to rescue Americans, other countries have purportedly accomplished successful missions to extract their citizens.
The Daily Telegraph reported that the U.K. government deployed paratroopers to the streets of Kabul to rescue 200 British nationals.
Germany announced it will send two light helicopters with special forces to Kabul to evacuate Germans at risk or situated in remote regions, according to the Jerusalem Post.
France 24 reported that its military helped more than 200 French nationals, foreign nationals, and Afghans get to the airport.
French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted, “To our armies, police and diplomatic teams who organize these sensitive operations, thank you. We continue.”
CBS News reported, “U.S. military transport planes have air-lifted around 5,000 people, mostly U.S. citizens and Afghans who once worked for the U.S., out of the country. But there are around 60 to 80,000 left to get out, by President Biden’s count, and that includes more than 10,000 Americans.”
The Biden administration has made Aug. 31 the deadline to evacuate Americans out of Afghanistan, but on Wednesday, President Biden said the deadline could be extended to “get them all out.”