The White House said Tuesday that the Taliban had promised that civilians could travel safely to Kabul airport as the US military increased its aircraft for Americans and Afghans fleeing the Islamist group.
A White House official said the U.S. military had evacuated about 3,200 people so far, including 1,100-13 U.S. citizens, permanent residents and their families on Tuesday.
Earlier on Tuesday, the White House said 11,000 Americans were inside the country, including diplomats, contractors and others, most of whom were awaiting evacuation after the Taliban took over.
Washington wants to complete the evacuation before the August 31 withdrawal deadline, and thousands of U.S. troops were at the airport when the Pentagon planned to increase the number of flights of its large C-17 transport jets to two dozen a day.
A White House official who released the latest evacuation figures on Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: That number will increase. “
US officials say they are in contact with Taliban commanders to ensure that the flight operation at Hamid Karzai International Airport is safe from attack and that civilians and Afghans traveling there have a safe passage.
“We had no hostile talks, no attacks and no threats,” said Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor at the Pentagon.
But State Department spokesman Ned Price said Tuesday that the United States could decide to maintain its core diplomatic presence, operating outside the airport after the US embassy closed on August 31.
“If it’s safe and responsible for us to stay as long as possible, that’s what we can see,” Price said.
He also called on the Taliban to honor promises to respect the rights of citizens, including women.
In addition, Afghans are granted US refugee visas, mostly for working as interpreters for US and NATO forces, other foreign nationals and non-specific “at risk” Afghans.
Despite reports that people are being harassed and even beaten as they try to get out, White House National Security Adviser Jack Sullivan said “large numbers” Arrived at the airport.
“The Taliban have informed us that they are ready to provide a safe passage for civilians at the airport, and we intend to keep them committed,” he told reporters.
The U.S. Department of Defense has deployed troops at the airport since Saturday to protect migrants as Taliban insurgents entered Kabul after a nationwide power siege and seized power.
Taylor said the number of US troops would rise from 2,500 on Monday to 4,000 by the end of Tuesday.
He said the United States aims to increase an airplane from one hour to one hour to carry 5,000 to 9,000 passengers a day.
Some other countries, including Germany and France, have also been able to allow their citizens and Afghans to travel to those countries.
Taylor spoke a day after security was breached at the airport, with videos showing hundreds of Afghans running with a C-17, some wrapped around it.
The videos show two people dying after a plane crashed. Another man was later found dead in a one-wheeled well.
He said the plane was surrounded by hundreds of Afghans before the air force could unload the cargo.
“Faced with the rapidly deteriorating security situation around the aircraft, C-17 crew decided to leave the airfield as soon as possible.”
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