WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. subject has pulled disconnected its biggest time of evacuation flights from Afghanistan since the cognition began, but deadly unit that has blocked galore hopeless evacuees from entering Kabul’s airdrome persisted and the Taliban signaled they mightiness soon question to unopen down the airlifts.
Amid the tense cognition to get radical retired of the country, CIA Director William Burns secretly swooped into Kabul connected Monday to conscionable with the Taliban’s apical governmental leader, a U.S. authoritative told The Associated Press.
About 21,600 radical were flown safely retired of Taliban-held Afghanistan successful the 24-hour play that ended aboriginal Tuesday, the White House said.
Thirty-seven U.S. subject flights — 32 C-17s and 5 C-130s — carried astir 12,700 evacuees. Another 8,900 radical flew retired aboard 57 flights by U.S. allies.
Pentagon main spokesperson John Kirby said Monday the faster gait of evacuation was partially owed to coordination with Taliban commanders connected getting evacuees into the airport.
“Thus far, and going forward, it does necessitate changeless coordination and deconfliction with the Taliban,” Kirby said. “What we’ve seen is, this deconfliction has worked good successful presumption of allowing entree and travel arsenic good arsenic reducing the wide size of the crowds conscionable extracurricular the airport.”
Burns and Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban’s apical governmental leader, secretly met successful Kabul connected Monday arsenic the evacuations continued. The Washington Post archetypal reported Burns’ gathering connected Tuesday. The U.S. authoritative aboriginal confirmed the gathering for the AP.
With entree inactive difficult, the U.S. subject went beyond the airdrome to transportation retired different chopper retrieval of Americans. U.S. officials said a subject chopper picked up 16 American citizens Monday and brought them onto the airfield for evacuation. This was astatine slightest the 2nd specified rescue ngo beyond the airport; Kirby said that past Thursday, 3 Army helicopters picked up 169 Americans adjacent a edifice conscionable beyond the airdrome gross and flew them onto the airfield.
President Joe Biden’s nationalist information adviser, Jake Sullivan, said astatine the White House that talks with the Taliban are continuing arsenic the medication looks for further ways to safely determination much Americans and others into the Kabul airdrome by an end-of-August deadline.
“We are successful talks with the Taliban connected a regular ground done some governmental and information channels,” helium said, adding that yet it volition beryllium Biden’s determination unsocial whether to proceed military-led evacuation operations beyond Aug. 31. That’s the day Biden has acceptable for completing the withdrawal of troops.
California Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff, president of the House quality committee, told reporters aft a committee briefing Monday connected the Afghanistan withdrawal that “it was hard for maine to imagine” wrapping up the airlifts by the extremity of the month. He besides said it was wide “there were immoderate fig of warnings” to the medication “of a precise accelerated takeover” by the Taliban.
After much than a week of evacuations plagued by large obstacles, including Taliban forces and crushing crowds that are making approaching the airdrome hard and dangerous, the fig of radical flown retired met — and exceeded — U.S. projections for the archetypal time.
Army Gen. Stephen Lyons, caput of U.S. Transportation Command, which manages the subject craft that are executing the Kabul airlift, told a Pentagon quality league that much than 200 planes are involved, including aerial refueling planes, and that arriving planes are spending little than an hr connected the tarmac astatine Kabul earlier loading and taking off. He said the nonstop ngo is taking a toll connected aircrews.
“They’re tired,” Lyons said of the crews.
On a much affirmative note, Lyons said that successful summation to the wide reported lawsuit of an Afghan pistillate giving commencement aboard a U.S. evacuation aircraft, 2 different babies person been calved successful akin circumstances. He did not supply details.
The Pentagon said it has added a 4th U.S. subject base, successful New Jersey, to 3 others — successful Virginia, Texas and Wisconsin — that are prepared to temporarily location arriving Afghans. Maj. Gen. Hank Williams, the Joint Staff lawman manager for determination operations, told reporters determination are present astir 1,200 Afghans astatine those subject bases. The 4 bases combined are susceptible of lodging up to 25,000 evacuees, Kirby said.
Afghan evacuees continued to get astatine Dulles International Airport extracurricular of Washington. Exhaustion clouded the faces of galore of the adults. A writer asked 1 antheral however it felt to beryllium successful the U.S. “We are safe,” the antheral answered.
An older pistillate sank with alleviation into an offered wheelchair, and a small miss carried by an older lad shaded her eyes to look curiously around. The scramble to evacuate near galore arrivals carrying lone a bookbag oregon purse, oregon a integrative buying container of belongings. Some arrived for their caller lives wholly empty-handed.
Biden said Sunday helium would not regularisation retired extending the evacuation beyond Aug. 31. But British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who volition conscionable with Biden virtually connected Tuesday successful a G-7 leaders’ acme connected the chaotic withdrawal, is expected to property Biden for an hold to get retired the maximum fig of foreigners and Afghan allies possible.
Lawmakers, veterans organizations and exile advocates successful the U.S. besides are urging Biden to support up the U.S. military’s evacuation retired of the Kabul airdrome arsenic agelong arsenic it takes to airlift not conscionable Americans, but Afghan allies and different Afghans astir astatine hazard from the Taliban.
But Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen, successful an interrogation with Sky News, said that Aug. 31 is simply a “red line” the U.S. indispensable not transverse and that extending the American beingness would “provoke a reaction.”
Since the Taliban seized the superior Aug. 15, completing a stunning rout of the U.S.-backed Afghan authorities and military, the U.S. has been carrying retired the evacuation successful coordination with the Taliban, who person held disconnected connected attacking Americans nether a 2020 withdrawal woody with the Trump administration.
Monday’s informing signaled the Taliban could importune connected shutting down the airlifts retired of the Kabul airdrome successful conscionable implicit a week. Lawmakers, exile groups, veterans’ organizations and U.S. allies person said ending the evacuation past could strand countless Afghans and foreigners inactive hoping for flights out.
Since Aug. 14, the U.S. has evacuated and facilitated the evacuation of much than 58,000 people.
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