August 18, 2021 – 23:21
Senior U.S. officials spoke Wednesday (August 18th) about the difficulties they are facing in evacuating from Kabul Afghan personnel and workers who have worked with U.S. forces.
US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said the Taliban were breaking promises and that the United States was pressuring them to allow Afghans to flee through the US-controlled airport in Kabul.
“We have seen reports that the Taliban, contrary to their public statements and their commitments to our government, are blocking Afghans who want to leave the country to reach the airport,” Sherman told reporters.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said Wednesday that there are about 4,500 U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul.
He said there had been no “hostile interactions with the Taliban” and that lines of communication with Taliban commanders remained open.
As for the evacuation from Kabul airport of Afghan personnel and workers who have worked with US forces, Austin said the process is not at the desired level.
“The US does not currently have the capacity to go and pick up large numbers of Americans outside Kabul airport,” Austin said, adding that the biggest issue right now is sending people to the airport.
Meanwhile, US Army Chief of Staff Mark Milley said the situation at Kabul airport is currently stable.
Earlier in the video footage released several militants appeared in the capital whipping people trying to reach the airport, while gunshots were also heard.
A riot at Kabul airport injured 17 people on August 18, a NATO security official told Reuters.
U.S. forces took control of the airport on Sunday (August 15th) to ensure the evacuation of personnel and Afghans who have worked with foreign forces. On the same day, the Taliban took control of the capital Kabul and entered the Presidential Palace hours after President Ashraf Ghani left the country.
On Monday, US President Joe Biden said they had sent a message to the Taliban that if they obstructed the evacuation operation, they would face a swift and harsh response.
The Taliban claimed victory on August 15 after seizing control of the capital, Kabul, after nearly 20 years of ending the military presence of US-led forces.