August 27 Afghanistan-Taliban news

By Aditi Sangal, Jessie Yeung, Brad Lendon, Tara John, Melissa Macaya, Meg Wagner, Fernando Alfonso III and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 11:01 PM ET, Mon August 30, 2021
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11:02 a.m. ET, August 27, 2021

Pentagon confirms only one explosion outside Kabul airport, after initially reporting two

From CNN's Michael Callahan

Army Maj. Gen. William "Hank" Taylor.
Army Maj. Gen. William "Hank" Taylor. (Source: Pool)

The Pentagon said there was only one explosion at the Abbey gate at Hamid Karzai International airport on Thursday.

The Pentagon originally said there was a second explosion outside the Baron hotel in its initial statements.

“I can confirm for you that we do not believe that there was a second explosion at or near the Baron Hotel, that it was one suicide bomber. We’re not sure how that report was provided incorrectly,” Army Maj. Gen. William "Hank" Taylor, Joint Staff deputy director for regional operations, told reporters Friday.

10:52 a.m. ET, August 27, 2021

NOW: Pentagon holds briefing on Kabul attack

Army Maj. Gen. William "Hank" Taylor.
Army Maj. Gen. William "Hank" Taylor. (Source: Pool)

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby and Army Maj. Gen. William "Hank" Taylor, Joint Staff deputy director for regional operations, are speaking to reporters following yesterday's attack at the Kabul airport.

At least 90 Afghans and 13 US service members died after suicide bombers and gunmen attacked packed crowds outside the airport.

Gen. Kenneth "Frank" McKenzie, head of US Central Command, said yesterday US troops were continuing the evacuation mission at "best speed," noting there were still about 1,000 American citizens in Afghanistan. But he said the focus right now was on the "extremely active threat streams against the airfield."

10:15 a.m. ET, August 27, 2021

UN Security Council condemns deadly Kabul attack

From CNN’s Richard Roth

The United Nations Security Council condemned “in the strongest terms” the deadly attack near the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday.

“The members of the Security Council expressed their deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims, and they wished a speedy and full recovery to those who were injured,” they said in a press statement Friday morning.

The council denounced terrorism in all its forms, calling it “one of the most serious threats to international peace and security,” and called on all parties to respect and facilitate the safe evacuations of civilians.

10:41 a.m. ET, August 27, 2021

Afghan woman: US's hurried withdrawal vindicates Taliban-inflicted violence and abuses as "acceptable"

Pashtana Durrani.
Pashtana Durrani. (CNN)

In hurriedly withdrawing from Afghanistan, the United States is setting a clear example for the world — the Taliban's violence and abuses are acceptable, Afghan human rights activist Pashtana Durrani said.

"When your President says 'we will not forget and we will not forgive,' it's exactly what he did. He forgave the Taliban. He forgot what they did. He's leaving and there was no hunting down," Durrani told CNN.

The US is "setting an example of the fact that every now and then when you fight a holy war and you recruit people and you murder people in suicide bombings, after two decades, you are acceptable," she said Friday.

Durrani also offered an alternative view — one where the US has failed to offer protection to women like her despite the values they evangelize around the world, and instead, her countries much-criticized "tribes" are offering her alliance and support.

"The US came for their own benefit and for their own war, but it was just fought on our ground," Durrani said. "Your president said that we are a country that is having petty fights about our tribes. It's the tribes that are protecting me right now. It's the different ethnicities that are protecting me. It's the different allies that I have built over the course of years, who are here who are willing to protect me."


9:39 a.m. ET, August 27, 2021

This pilot says helping Afghans evacuate was special for him as the son of a Holocaust survivor

Delta Airlines pilot Alexander Kahn.
Delta Airlines pilot Alexander Kahn. (CNN)

When Delta Airlines pilot Alexander Kahn was tasked with flying Afghan evacuees from Germany to the United States, the moment felt special to him.

"My father was a Holocaust survivor," he told CNN. "[He] came to the United States not much different from the people that are coming to the United States now. He was coming with the clothes on his back, no family, no English skills, and had to start life over again."

As he flew the plane with Afghans coming to the US, he said he was able to "put myself in their position."

"They're starting a new life. This is going to be a frightening experience for them. But it has the potential to be an excellent experience for them."

The flight crew took the initiative to prepare by using their own money to buy supplies for the children and other evacuees who were going to be on board, Kahn said Friday.

"We knew these evacuees were coming with no opportunity to prepare and to take things that you and I would prepare for [with] an international flight. [The crew spent] their own money, they purchased diapers and wipes and candy and balloons, coloring books and other things they knew the evacuees were going to need, and refused to take any reimbursement from us, from the pilots for this," he added.

Kahn flew the evacuees to the US out of the Ramstein US Air Base, which is where he first learned to fly an airplane and where he got his pilot's license.

Years from now, if he had the chance to meet an evacuee, he says he would ask them about their goals and give them hope.

"I think I'd probably ask them, how was their experience? Have they been able to reach goals that they never dreamed possible? And to give them hope, to show them that we are a land of legal immigrants, and this is what built the United States. We're a generous country because we're a generous people, and the future is theirs."

9:38 a.m. ET, August 27, 2021

Sweden ends evacuation operation from Afghanistan

From Niamh Kennedy in Dublin

Sweden's evacuation operation in Afghanistan has come to an end, the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA) said Friday.  

"Following days of intensive efforts around the clock, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs evacuation from Afghanistan has now been concluded," a tweet from the Swedish MFA said. "All Swedish staff have left Afghanistan."

Other countries, such as Italy, Spain, Australia and New Zealand, have also concluded their evacuations operations in Afghanistan.

9:27 a.m. ET, August 27, 2021

Obama says he's "heartbroken" after attack in Kabul

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

Former President Barack Obama released a statement Friday on the terrorist attack that killed more than 100 people, including 13 US service members, in Kabul, Afghanistan on Thursday. 

"Like so many of you, Michelle and I were heartbroken to hear about the terrorist attack outside the Kabul airport," Obama said in a written statement. "As president, nothing was more painful than grieving with the loved ones of Americans who gave their lives serving our country."

"As President Biden said, these service members are heroes who have been engaged in a dangerous, selfless mission to save the lives of others," Obama added. "May God bless the memory of those we lost, and protect those who remain in harm’s way."

9:27 a.m. ET, August 27, 2021

Few people seen around Kabul airport on Friday

From CNN’s Tim Lister

There are very few people gathering at Kabul airport on Friday following yesterday's attack, a journalist working with CNN who took a trip through the city on Friday reports.

People are not allowed to go to the main gate of the airport, the journalist said. Almost 500 yards before the main gate, the road is blocked by the Taliban who have parked their cars there, they added. 

The rest of the city is “calm,” with less traffic than on previous days.

All the main commercial centers are either closed or their business is very slow, the stringer reported. This is unsurprising because Friday marks the start of Afghanistan’s weekend.

9:03 a.m. ET, August 27, 2021

About 2,500 Afghans en route to US from Jordan

From Hamdi Alkhshali

About 2,500 Afghans who arrived in Amman, Jordan, earlier this week are now en route to the United States, the country’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Daifallah al-Fayez said.

“The Afghan nationals were not granted refugee status, as Jordan did not bear any burdens due to their crossing,” the spokesperson added.

The process of Afghans' crossing will continue until the end of this month, al-Fayez said.