President Joe Biden has told US citizens trapped in Afghanistan and allies who worked alongside US forces “we will bring them home,” but admitted that he cannot promise what the “bottom line” of troop withdrawal will be.
At a press conference at the White House, he admitted images of people desperately trying to flee the Taliban at Kabul airport they were “heartbreaking” and “heartbreaking”, but they insisted that he is “focused on getting this job done.”
He said: “This is one of the largest and most difficult airlifts in history. We will do everything we can to provide a safe evacuation for our Afghan allies and partners.
“Any American who wants to come home, we will take him home.”
He added: “It is time to end this war.”
Mr biden said 13,000 people had been safely evacuated from Afghanistan from August 14 – the day before To accept It fell into the hands of the Taliban, but added that the mission was “dangerous” and that “all necessary resources” would be mobilized, with nearly 6,000 troops currently on the ground.
He said the United States would “maintain a laser focus” on its counterterrorism mission in the country to prevent it from being used as a base to launch attacks, and warned the Taliban that any threat to US forces would be met with a “swift response.” “.
There is a race against time to get out Westerners and their Afghan allies, including translators, interpreters and other vulnerable people, as US soldiers, who are leading the evacuation efforts, are due to leave the country on August 31.
Tens of thousands of people remain to be evacuated before the deadline.
But the Taliban have assured the United States that they will allow Afghans to leave after Aug. 31 if they wish, according to the US State Department.
Biden has faced a torrent of criticism for the rapid withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, with the Taliban back in control 20 years after being toppled.
He rejected the conviction, saying that the withdrawal of military personnel was “the only rational thing to do” and insisted that the US allies agreed with the decision.
Speaking to reporters, he said: “I have not seen our allies around the world question our credibility,” and said: “I have not seen that, in fact quite the opposite.”
He added: “There will be plenty of time to criticize and guess when this work is done.”
There have been chaotic scenes outside the Kabul airport every day this week like Desperate crowds of Afghans try to flee the country..
Thousands are crowding the facilities as they try to escape the Taliban, but some face difficulties even getting to that point due to the armed checkpoints of the group’s fighters.
The president said he had “no evidence” that the militants prevented US citizens from accessing the airport.
Some US politicians are calling on the Biden administration to extend a security perimeter beyond the airport and deeper into Kabul so that more people can reach the airport for evacuation.
But the president rejected this suggestion, saying it could have “unintended consequences,” indicating that there could be additional security threats against US troops. But he added that the “trials” will be made by commanders on the ground.
Some in Congress also want Biden to make it clear that the August 31 deadline for withdrawing US troops is not firm.
In addition, the US president told key allies in June that he would maintain a sufficient security presence in Afghanistan to ensure that they could continue to operate in the capital following the major US withdrawal, according to a British diplomatic memorandum seen. by Bloomberg.
Biden promised Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other leaders at the G7 summit in Cornwall that “America’s critical enablers” would remain in place to keep Kabul safe following the reduction of NATO forces, reportedly the note said.
Follow the daily podcast on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker
Meanwhile, Matt Zeller, who served in Afghanistan and is a former combat adviser to the Afghan security forces, said he had told US officials in February that they should begin evacuating Afghans and called the current situation a “scenario of nightmare”.
He told Sky News: “Imagine if we had done this in the winter when it was not fighting season, when we still had forces and we controlled all the airfields in Afghanistan.
“Would it have been chaotic to start moving people slowly, methodically, a couple of families at a time, when we had the staff and equipment in place? Would it have been chaotic? Absolutely not. Could we have done it, probably silently Can you bet. “
Mr. Zeller added: “I can’t think of anything more horrible and fiasco than what is happening now.”
“We don’t have a good security perimeter. We don’t have enough space on the runway. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be a US Marine within yards of a Taliban bully beating up US citizens.”
He said he had personal accounts of US citizens standing in line waving their passports but unable to enter.
In dramatic footage, a U.S. Marine providing airport security reached over a barbed wire at the top of a barrier and grabbed a baby by the arm in a crowd and threw him over the wall. .
Speaking at a news conference, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said of the incident: “The father asked the Marines to take care of the baby because the baby was sick and the Marine he sees is reaching out for On top of the wall, he took him to a Norwegian hospital at the airport. ” .
“They treated the boy and returned him to the boy’s father. I am only aware of the incident.
“It was an act of compassion because there was concern for the baby. The baby was returned to his father. I don’t know where they are now.
“Obviously, we have a responsibility to return a child to the child’s parents and I don’t know who the father is and if he is an SIV (Special Immigrant Visa) applicant.”
A US defense official said that around 5,700 people, including about 250 Americans, left Kabul aboard 16 C-17 transport planes in the past 24 hours.