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Biden says U.S. unwavering in Afghanistan evacuations; Taliban beat back crowd at airport

WorldAug 23, 2021 01:22AM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. A member of Taliban (C) stands outside Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 16, 2021. REUTERS/Stringer 2/2

KABUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The United States has an unwavering commitment to getting U.S. citizens and at-risk Afghans out of Afghanistan, President Joe Biden said, as Taliban fighters beat back thousands desperate to flee outside Kabul airport on Sunday.

Biden said the security situation in Afghanistan was changing rapidly and his administration was under no illusions about the threat from Islamic State militants in Afghanistan known as ISIS-K (for Khorasan).

The Taliban, which seized power in Afghanistan last week as the United States and its allies withdrew troops after a 20-year war, fired in the air and used batons to force people to form queues outside the airport, witnesses said. On Saturday, seven Afghans were killed https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/seven-people-killed-crowd-near-kabul-airport-uk-ministry-defence-2021-08-22 in a crush at the gates.

A NATO official said at least 20 people had died in the past seven days in and around the airport. Some were shot and others died in stampedes, witnesses have said.

"Let me be clear, the evacuation of thousands from Kabul is going to be hard and painful" and would have been "no matter when it began," Biden said in a briefing at the White House.

"We have a long way to go and a lot could still go wrong."

Biden said he had directed the State Department to contact Americans stranded in Afghanistan by phone, email and other means, and the United States had a plan to move them to the airport.

"We're executing a plan to move groups of these Americans to safety and to safely and effectively move them to the airport compound. For security reasons, I'm not going to go into detail ... but I will say again today what I've said before: Any American who wants to get home will get home."

Afghan allies of the West and vulnerable Afghans such as women activists and journalists would be helped too, he said.

On Sunday, there were no major injuries as gunmen beat back the crowds, according to witnesses. The Taliban had been "cooperative" about extending the airport perimeter, Biden said.

Asked by a reporter whether the United States would extend an Aug. 31 deadline for evacuations, Biden replied: "Our hope is we will not have to extend but there are going to be discussions I suspect on how far along we are in the process."

CIVILIAN AIRCRAFT

The United States on Sunday sought the help of six commercial airlines https://www.reuters.com/world/biden-administration-use-commercial-airlines-carry-afghan-evacuees-2021-08-22 to transport people after their evacuation from Afghanistan. Biden said people were being assisted by more than two dozen countries in four continents.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called a virtual meeting of leaders of the Group of Seven wealthy nations for Tuesday to "ensure safe evacuations, prevent a humanitarian crisis and support the Afghan people".

Britain plans to push world leaders to consider new sanctions on the Taliban when the G7 meets, sources told Reuters. Biden said he would support that effort, depending on the conduct of the Taliban.

Panicked Afghans have tried to board flights out of Kabul since last weekend, fearing reprisals and a return to a harsh version of Islamic law the Sunni Muslim group exercised while in power two decades ago.

Leaders of the Taliban, who have sought to show a more moderate face since capturing Kabul, have begun talks on forming a government.

OPPOSITION

They face opposition from forces in northern Afghanistan, which said this weekend https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/anti-taliban-forces-say-theyve-taken-three-districts-afghanistans-north-2021-08-21 they had taken three districts close to the Panjshir valley.

Anti-Taliban leader Ahmad Massoud https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/anti-taliban-leader-massoud-says-negotiation-only-way-forward-2021-08-22 said on Sunday he hoped to hold peaceful talks with the Islamist movement but that his forces in the Panjshir - remnants of army units, special forces and militiamen - were ready to fight.

"We want to make the Taliban realise that the only way forward is through negotiation," he said. "We do not want a war to break out."

The Taliban said hundreds of their fighters were heading towards Panjshir, showing a video on Twitter of a column of captured trucks with the white Taliban flag but still bearing their government markings moving along a highway.

The United States and other countries including Britain have brought in several thousand troops to help evacuate foreign citizens and at-risk Afghans from Kabul, but have been careful to avoid clashes with the Taliban.

A Taliban official said: "We are seeking complete clarity on foreign forces' exit plan".

Taliban political office spokesman Mohammed Naeem told Saudi-owned Al Hadath TV that talks are ongoing with the United States and other countries. He said al Qaeda is not present in Afghanistan and the Taliban has no relationship with it.

Afghans who fled in the past week have spoken about https://www.reuters.com/world/afghans-speak-despair-uncertainty-after-evacuation-qatar-2021-08-21 their despair at leaving loved ones behind. "It was very difficult to leave," a veiled woman told Reuters in Qatar. "I love my country."

The World Health Organization and U.N. children's agency UNICEF called for a humanitarian air bridge to deliver aid to Afghanistan to help more than 18 million people in need.

U.S. Army Major General William Taylor said on Saturday that the United States https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/us-says-2500-americans-evacuated-kabul-past-week-2021-08-21 in the past week had evacuated 17,000 people, including 2,500 Americans, from Kabul.

On one of the flights, an Afghan woman gave birth on board moments after landing at Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Saturday, the U.S. Air Force said on Twitter. The woman delivered a baby girl in the cargo bay of a C-17 aircraft. The mother and baby were in good condition, the tweet said.

Biden says U.S. unwavering in Afghanistan evacuations; Taliban beat back crowd at airport
 

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Comments (14)
Lake Lot
Lake Lot Aug 22, 2021 9:54PM ET
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Instead of executing a plan , execute Taliban
Jason Patcher
Jason Patcher Aug 22, 2021 9:31PM ET
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I've been on the Biden bandwagon but this is a disaster of his own.
Green Mango
Green Mango Aug 22, 2021 8:06PM ET
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Reuters embarrassingly just repeating Admin talking points with no push back. As China threatens invasion if Taiwan. All of a sudden, in 2021, the bad guys are winning. And Kamala is laughing with Obama.
pcg upstate
pcg upstate Aug 22, 2021 7:35PM ET
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Look at these pirates! Wearing us military clothing, using our weapons. This in itself is a disgrace and stain on the Biden administration
Miles Mathewson
Miles Mathewson Aug 22, 2021 7:21PM ET
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Unbelievable. USA beaten way worse than in Vietnam. Not a shadow of the global power it once was...
Ronald Warren
Ronald Warren Aug 22, 2021 6:14PM ET
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Hey Sean. Google Wikipedia: Responsibility for 9/11 Attacks. Click on Taliban. It will explain how the Taliban government harbored Bin Laden in the years leading up to 9/11. Why do you think we attacked the Taliban in the first place? The U.S. just never finished the job!!
andy matalobos
andy matalobos Aug 22, 2021 6:14PM ET
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The Taliban was the weakest target chosen by G. Bush in order to score a quick military and political victory......the real mission should have been the Saudis....since all the terrorists were Saudis with the exception of one Egyptian mercenary. But the USA can't afford to take military actions against the King's hand that feeds the U.S.A economy.......The Taliban were the scapegoats in this humiliating defeat.
Jurgen Daub
Jurgen Daub Aug 22, 2021 6:14PM ET
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correct, and after the sword dance, nothing left to do.
Ronald Warren
Ronald Warren Aug 22, 2021 6:14PM ET
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Thanks for the explanation Andy.
Erski Gumby
SB20 Aug 22, 2021 6:14PM ET
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andy matalobos Are you saying that the Saudi king had something to do with 9/11?
New Jazenevd
New Jazenevd Aug 22, 2021 6:04PM ET
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Burisma Joe at the wheel. What can go wrong?
jonathon blackmon
jonathon blackmon Aug 22, 2021 6:04PM ET
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traitor 45 made the deal russian comrade
Green Mango
Green Mango Aug 22, 2021 6:04PM ET
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No question someone is holding the wheel for him as he speeds towards the cliff........
Mart Bab
Rubberduck1973 Aug 22, 2021 5:36PM ET
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In my opinion, the USA finally gained credibility by leaving Afghanistan. This move shows the Middle East, they are not there to confiscate. In the end it’s up to Afghanistan to rule itself. So stop wining.
Ronald Warren
Ronald Warren Aug 22, 2021 5:36PM ET
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Hey Rubberduck! The Taliban harbored the terrorists who blew us up 20 years ago!! They also knew of their plan. Now we just walk away and let them keep Afghanistan!! Instead, Biden should have completed the mission of search and destroy!!
Mart Bab
Rubberduck1973 Aug 22, 2021 5:36PM ET
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Ronald Warren  ow so the mission was search and destroy? Like in a computer game?
Ronald Warren
Ronald Warren Aug 22, 2021 5:36PM ET
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The Taliban government harbored Bin Laden and Al Qaeda.
Mart Bab
Rubberduck1973 Aug 22, 2021 5:36PM ET
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Ronald Warren  bin laden is dead. Al Qaeda is now a problem for the Taliban. Lets see how the all get along.
Vlad Lozovskiy
Vlad Lozovskiy Aug 22, 2021 9:30AM ET
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According to woman from CNN, Taliban is friendly!
William Hineser
William Hineser Aug 22, 2021 9:15AM ET
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When Biden spoke he lied. Hope you all saw Judge Jeanine last night.
Jurgen Daub
Jurgen Daub Aug 22, 2021 9:15AM ET
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lol, judge Jeannine, same as Taliban leader hahahaha
 
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