August 30 Afghanistan-Taliban news

By Melissa Mahtani, Melissa Macaya, Veronica Rocha, Brad Lendon, Jessie Yeung and Sheena McKenzie, CNN

Updated 6:00 a.m. ET, August 31, 2021
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11:10 a.m. ET, August 30, 2021

Pentagon says military operations ongoing in Afghanistan

From CNN's Michael Conte


The Pentagon said military operations are still are continuing in Afghanistan ahead of President Biden's Aug. 31 deadline to withdraw US troops.

Joint Staff deputy director for regional operations Army Maj. Gen. William "Hank" Taylor said the focus is on the security of the US troops who are still in Kabul but they continue to have capability to evacuate Afghans until the very end.

Taylor did note that, “while operations in Afghanistan will conclude soon, the DOD effort to support the interagency is ongoing.”

10:58 a.m. ET, August 30, 2021

Uzbekistan closes its borders to Afghan refugees 

From CNN’s Anna Chernova

The Uzbek-Afghan border is now completely closed and no land crossings are allowed through the Termez checkpoint, the Uzbek Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday.

“In order to ensure security, the Uzbek-Afghan border is currently completely closed and land crossing through the Termez checkpoint is not carried out,” said the statement posted on the website of Uzbekistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, adding that the opening of the Termez checkpoint on the Uzbek-Afghan border is not planned any time soon.

According to the Ministry, attempts to cross the Uzbek-Afghan land border, regardless of their reasons, will be “suppressed in accordance with the legislation of the Republic of Uzbekistan.”

Previously, Uzbekistan allowed people from Afghanistan to fly into Uzbekistan as a transit point on their way to other countries, but, the Ministry stated, the country does not accept any refugees from Afghanistan on its territory.

“Over the past 12 days, Uzbekistan has provided assistance to a number of states in the implementation of humanitarian operations to evacuate its citizens from Afghanistan, who arrived in Uzbekistan and left Uzbekistan exclusively by air. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterates that the Republic of Uzbekistan does not accept Afghan refugees on its territory, [Uzbekistan] provides assistance in transit which implies their strictly limited time in the country,” the MFA message reads. 

The Uzbek officials emphasized that the country is “firmly committed to maintaining traditionally friendly and good-neighborly relations with Afghanistan and the principles of non-interference in the internal affairs of the neighboring country”.

10:25 a.m. ET, August 30, 2021

UN Security Council expected to vote on resolution calling for safe passage from Kabul after US departs

From CNN's Richard Roth

US soldiers board a US Air Force aircraft at the airport in Kabul on August 30, 2021.
US soldiers board a US Air Force aircraft at the airport in Kabul on August 30, 2021. Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images

Two United Nations diplomats tell CNN they expect the UN Security Council to vote to approve a resolution calling for a safe passage area for people wanting leave Kabul airport after the US departs.

The vote would be after 3 p.m. ET Monday, however timing could change.

France, the United Kingdom and non-Council member Germany proposed a Security Council resolution calling for safe passage for those leaving Afghanistan, that would include counterterrorism, human rights, and humanitarian elements, CNN reported over the weekend.

It is not clear yet if China and Russia are fully on board.

Apparently, security for a safe passage zone will be left to the Taliban, according one diplomat.

The Taliban remains on several UN terrorism lists.

9:49 a.m. ET, August 30, 2021

First shipment of WHO medical supplies since Taliban takeover arrives in Afghanistan

From CNN's Hira Humayun

A plane carrying World Health Organization (WHO) health supplies and medicines landed in Afghanistan on Monday according to the WHO. This is the first shipment of medical supplies to land in the country since it came under Taliban control, the WHO statement said.

The supplies arrived on Monday at 12:25 p.m. local time and arrived at Mazar-i-Sharif airport. Supplies included trauma kits and emergency health kits. They are enough to cover the needs of more than 200,000 people as well as 3,500 surgical procedures, and can treat 6,500 trauma patients. They are set to be delivered immediately to 40 health facilities in 29 provinces across the country, the WHO statement read.

“After days of non-stop work to find a solution, I am very pleased to say that we have now been able to partially replenish stocks of health facilities in Afghanistan and ensure that — for now – WHO-supported health services can continue,” Dr. Ahmed Al Mandhari, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, said.

The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane, provided by the Pakistan government, was loaded in Dubai by the WHO logistics team and flew directly to Mazar-i-Sharif. It is the first of three flights planned with PIA to address the urgent shortages in medicine and medical supplies in Afghanistan.

“I would like to thank the Government of Pakistan and PIA for their efforts to support WHO and the people of Afghanistan. Humanitarian agencies such as WHO have faced enormous challenges in sending life-saving supplies to Afghanistan in recent weeks due to security and logistics constraints. The support of the Pakistani people has been timely and life-saving,” Al-Mandhari said.

Earlier Monday morning, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Afghanistan Mansoor Ahmad Khan tweeted, “First PIA Cargo flight with WHO medical supplies from Islamabad to Mazar Sharif today. A humanitarian air bridge for essential supplies to Afghanistan in coordination with international agencies. Thanx PIA.”

9:19 a.m. ET, August 30, 2021

UN Security Council will meet on Afghanistan Monday

From CNN's Richard Roth

United Nations Secretary General António Guterres and others gather for a UN Security Council meeting on Afghanistan on August 16, 2021 at the United Nations in New York.
United Nations Secretary General António Guterres and others gather for a UN Security Council meeting on Afghanistan on August 16, 2021 at the United Nations in New York. Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

The United Nations Security Council will meet at 3 p.m. ET Monday on Afghanistan, according to the public schedule.

The council is likely to be briefed by a UN official on the latest.

This comes after France, the United Kingdom and non-Council member Germany proposed a Security Council resolution “calling for safe passage for those leaving Afghanistan,” that would include counterterrorism, human rights, and humanitarian elements, diplomats told CNN over the weekend.

It’s unclear whether the council will discuss this.

The briefing will be available LIVE from UNTV.


8:44 a.m. ET, August 30, 2021

Stream of US military aircraft flying in and out of Kabul Monday as withdrawal deadline looms

From CNN’s Tim Lister

An US Air Force aircraft takes off from the airport in Kabul on August 30.
An US Air Force aircraft takes off from the airport in Kabul on August 30. Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images

As the US deadline for leaving Kabul nears, a steady stream of US military aircraft has been arriving at and leaving the Hamid Karzai International Airport in daylight hours Monday.

One C-17 military transport aircraft was seen to deploy flares on its final approach. Just before dusk, a Qatari military transport also touched down.

CNN has been monitoring flight tracking sites and a live video feed from near the airport. 

Most of the aircraft have been arriving in Kabul from bases in the Gulf. 

8:27 a.m. ET, August 30, 2021

Pakistan’s interior minister: Not a single person has been given refugee status since Kabul fell

From CNN’s Sophia Saifi and Nazar ul Islam

Pakistan has not “given refugee status to a single person since Kabul fell,” the country’s Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed said at a news conference in the capital city of Islamabad. 

Rasheed said that Pakistan will not be covering the expenses of evacuees flying into its borders, and any special planes arriving at Islamabad International Airport for evacuation purposes are paying fees to Pakistan. 

According to Rasheed, 1,627 evacuees have been flown into Islamabad from Afghanistan and “some 500 to 600 people” are “waiting at the airport” in Islamabad where they will be flown out directly by their sponsors. In addition to this evacuees are being given “special 21 day transit visas” while they wait in Pakistan to be flown out by their sponsors. 

Rasheed stated that in the event of any security threat, “Pakistan’s army is on posted every inch of the Afghan-Pakistan border and ensuring that its doing its duty.” 

8:56 a.m. ET, August 30, 2021

Afghans fearful of Taliban bloodletting once international community leave

From CNN's Clarissa Ward in Pakistan

The US evacuation mission has massively slowed down in the last few days, as to be expected as the country nears the August 31 exit deadline.

Despite Taliban assurances that foreign nationals or anyone with the appropriate documentation will be allowed to leave after this date, that's not doing much to alleviate the concerns of many Afghans still in the country.

One family from Texas who are US passport holders were in a complete panic Monday morning that they would not be "one of the lucky ones" to escape before Tuesday's deadline.

The family lives in the US but had gone to Afghanistan to visit parents and just happened to get caught up in the Taliban takeover.

Over the last two weeks, they have repeatedly tried to reach airport gates but failed to get past Taliban checkpoints.

Many people are fearful of the purge or bloodletting, once the international community leaves Afghanistan.

9:10 a.m. ET, August 30, 2021

Humanitarian crisis 'just beginning,' says UN High Commissioner

From CNN's Nina Avramova

Displaced Afghan women and children from Kunduz take shelter at a mosque in Kabul on August 13.
Displaced Afghan women and children from Kunduz take shelter at a mosque in Kabul on August 13. Paula Bronstein/Getty Images

While the massive evacuation efforts are “praiseworthy,” the majority of Afghans — some 39 million — will remain inside the country once the airlift ends, and need assistance, says Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees, in a statement published Monday. 

“Around 3.5 million people have already been displaced by violence within the country – more than half a million since the start of this year," said Grandi.
"Most have no regular channels through which to seek safety. And in the midst of a clear emergency, with millions in dire need of help, the humanitarian response inside Afghanistan is still desperately underfunded,” he added.

The UN High Commissioner said Afghanistan’s borders should be kept open for people seeking safety abroad. 

He also points out that neighboring Pakistan and Iran host more than 2 million registered Afghan refugees, almost 90% of the total. “As we continue advocating for open borders, more countries must share this humanitarian responsibility," said Grandi.

The Commissioner stresses that once the images of desperate crowds at Kabul’s airport seeking a way out, which “sparked an outpouring of compassion around the world,” fade there will still be “millions who need the international community to act.”