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There’s less than a week until the US’s Afghanistan withdrawal deadline

This is what Trump said about US' evacuation of Afghan allies
03:56

Where things stand

  • With less than a week to go before the Aug. 31 withdrawal deadline, US evacuation efforts are ramping up in Afghanistan. The US military increased flights out of Kabul yesterday to one every 39 minutes, the Pentagon says.
  • More than 10,000 people are still at Kabul’s airport waiting for flights, according to the Pentagon – the vast majority of them Afghans.
  • Meanwhile, two defense officials told CNN on Tuesday that the first US troops have started leaving the country.

Our live coverage has ended. Read more about the situation in Afghanistan here.

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US embassy warns Americans at certain gates in Kabul to "leave immediately"

U.S soldiers stand guard at the airport tower near an evacuation control checkpoint during ongoing evacuations at Hamid Karzai International Airport, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, August 25.

The US Embassy in Kabul advised US citizens at a number of gates at the airport to “leave immediately,” noting “security threats outside the gates.”

CNN reported earlier of “very specific threat stream” from ISIS-K against crowds.

Some context: The US believes ISIS-K, which is a sworn enemy of the Taliban, wants to create mayhem at the airport and has intelligence streams suggesting it is capable and planning to carry out multiple attacks, according to the official.

On Tuesday, as he confirmed his decision not to extend the evacuation deadline beyond Aug. 31, President Biden acknowledged the growing threat the group poses to the airport.

UK foreign office advices against all travel to Afghanistan, citing "high threat of terrorist attack"

The British foreign office has warned its nationals against all travel to Afghanistan in an update to its travel advisory issued on Wednesday.

The United Kingdom Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) cited the “high threat of terrorist attack” as the rationale for the updated advice.

The office also advised nationals currently in Afghanistan to avoid traveling to Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.

“If you are in the area of the airport, move away to a safe location and await further advice. Commercial flights are not currently operating. If you can leave Afghanistan safely by other means, you should do so immediately,” the office said in a statement. 

The foreign office noted that they suspended all nonessential operations at the British Embassy in Kabul as the security situation becomes more volatile.

The FCDO will offer “extremely limited” consular assistance remotely at the moment, the statement said.

The UK has rushed to evacuate thousands of people from Afghanistan in the wake of the Taliban’s rapid takeover of the country.

British armed forces have evacuated more than 11,000 people from Afghanistan

A handout photo released on August 23, by the British Ministry of Defence, shows members of the UK Armed Forces taking part in the evacuation of  from Kabul airport.

UK armed forces have extracted 11,474 British and Afghan nationals out of Kabul since the mission began on Aug.13, the UK Defense Ministry said in a statement Wednesday. 

According to the statement, “the evacuation process will run as long as the security situation allows in joint coordination with our US partners. No firm date has yet been set for the end of evacuation flights.” 

Tensions continue to build around Kabul’s airport perimeter as Afghans face down Taliban harassment in hopes of fleeing the country. Given the Taliban said they do not want Afghans traveling to the airport, UK troops will need to have the final civilian evacuations from Kabul wrapped up within 48 hours, David Richards, the former head of the British armed forces, said on Wednesday. 

The UK has evacuated almost 7,000 Afghans and their families during the operation, the ministry confirmed.  

Named Operation Pitting, the military evacuation includes embassy staff, British nationals, those eligible under the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (ARAP) program and a number of nationals from partner nations. 

Baby born on evacuation flight named "Reach" for the aircraft's call sign

The top US general in Europe said that the baby girl that had been born on a US C-17 military aircraft to Afghan evacuee parents has been named Reach for the call sign of the aircraft.

“Being an Air Force fighter pilot, it’s my dream to watch that young child called Reach grow up and be a US citizen and fly United States Air Force fighters in our Air Force,” joked head of European Command, Gen. Tod Wolters, to reporters at the Pentagon.

Reach was delivered on a C-17 plane en route from Qatar to Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

In a Twitter thread Sunday, the US Air Mobility Command said the woman went into labor aboard a C-17 transport aircraft during the second leg of her journey fleeing the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. The flight was from a staging base in the Middle East to the large US air base in Germany.

Here's what we know about key figures in the Taliban's leadership structure

The Taliban’s leadership structure has long been a mystery, with little known about how it works beyond the group’s most influential figures.

After seizing control of Afghanistan, the Taliban are moving to form a new government, with pledges of inclusivity and reform. But a look at the group’s leadership structure suggests that the nature of the new government could very well mirror the Taliban’s previous hard-line regime.

The group is led by the reclusive Haibatullah Akhundzada, a senior religious cleric in his 50s who was named chief after a US airstrike killed his predecessor in 2016. Hailing from the Taliban heartland of Spin Boldak, in southern Kandahar province, he was involved in the mujahedeen — or holy Islamic fight — against the Soviet invasion in the 1980s, and was appointed as the leader of jihadi matters in 2001, according to a Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid.

His deputy, Abdul Ghani Baradar, was a prominent member of the Taliban regime when it was last in power, and as the head of the group’s political committee is currently one of the militants’ most public facing leaders. Baradar arrived back in Afghanistan after a 20-year-exile last week.

Here’s a look at what else we know about key figures and how the Taliban’s power structure functions.

Biden was briefed on contingency plans, but remains committed to Aug. 31 deadline

President Biden was briefed early Wednesday on contingency plans in case he determines US troops should remain in Afghanistan past Aug. 31. 

That date remains the deadline by which Biden believes the US airlift mission will be complete. But in making his determination on Tuesday, the President asked military commanders to prepare alternate plans in case he feels US forces should remain longer.

Those plans were presented during a morning meeting at the White House with members of Biden’s national security team, including Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley.

“The President was briefed this morning on contingency plans and continues to have optionality should he decide to change plans, even as we are on track to complete our mission by August 31,” press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at the White House.

She said commanders on the ground have been “empowered” to make adjustments they deem necessary, including on the American footprint at the Kabul airport. 

CNN reported on Tuesday that troops had begun departing Kabul ahead of the deadline, and the Pentagon has said that time will be needed to pack up equipment and weapons ahead of next week’s deadline.

Psaki said the contingency plans amounted to an “ongoing discussion” that Biden has weighed during daily meetings with his national security team.

“These are incredibly serious issues and discussions happening internally,” she said.

White House not putting cap on number of SIV applicants they hope to get out by Aug. 31

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told CNN’s Phil Mattingly that the White House does not have a cap on the number of Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants they hope to get out of Afghanistan by Aug. 31. 

Asked by Mattingly if the administration has a specific numbers of SIV applicants it wants to get out in order to deem the evacuation mission a success, Psaki said the administration has “never put a cap on the number.”

“We are continuing to work every day to get as many people evacuated as we can,” Psaki added.  

“I’d also note that as the secretary of state said we will continue and we are continuing to look at a range of options to provide support and provide a means for departing Afghanistan even after our US military departs,” Psaki said. 

White House confirms it was not aware of recent Afghanistan trip made by 2 members of Congress

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Wednesday confirmed that the White House was not aware of a recent Afghanistan trip by two US Representatives “when they were en route.”

Reps. Seth Moulton and Peter Meijer, both Iraq War veterans, said in a recent joint statement that they secretly traveled to Afghanistan to see the situation themselves.

“Our guidance continues to be, to all American citizens – including elected officials, this is not the time to travel to Afghanistan,” Psaki said. “And our focus, our objectives, our resources need to be laser-focused on evacuating Afghan partners, evacuating American citizens. That’s best done in the hands of the Department of Defense and State Department professionals who are on the ground.”

Mexico receives more than 100 Afghan journalists and their families 

Mexico has received 124 Afghan nationals who requested humanitarian protection, Mexico’s foreign ministry announced Wednesday in press statement. 

The group of Afghan nationals who arrived early Wednesday at Mexico City International Airport are made up of media workers and their families whose lives are in danger. The Foreign Ministry said travel and living costs during their stay in Mexico will be covered by private sponsors and civil society organizations.

“The arrival of this group of Afghan citizens is the result of joint work between the Mexican embassies in Iran and Qatar, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of the Interior, and other entities of the federal government, whose support has been invaluable in protecting the lives of these people,” the statement said.

“This decision is congruent with the historical position of Mexico,” Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said, “it’s about those who are risking their lives to inform, to communicate; who are committed to freedom of expression.”

“I received reporters and local staff members from many media who have applied for humanitarian visas to Mexico due to the latest events in Kabul, Afghanistan. They arrived with their families, 124 people in total, including minors, after 20 hours of flight,” Ebrard tweeted

The director of International News for the New York Times, Michael Slackman, was among those who thanked Mexico for “the invaluable support provided to our Afghan colleagues and their families,” and highlighted “the rapid dispatch by Mexico’s government of safe transportation for journalists.”

Earlier, CNN reported that five women from Afghanistan’s renowned robotics team also arrived in Mexico on Tuesday. 

US secretary of state addresses relations with future Taliban-led government 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken emphasized that the United States has been dealing with the Taliban on facilitating getting US citizens and others out of Afghanistan, because “whether we like it or not,” the Taliban is “largely in control of the country” and that any future relationship with a Taliban-led government will be dependent on the actions of that government.

“Our focus right now is on getting our citizens and on getting our partners, Afghan partners, third country partners who have been working in Afghanistan with us, out of the country into safety. And for that purpose, first the Taliban, whether we like it or not, is in control, largely in control of the country, certainly in control of the city of Kabul, and it’s been important to work with them to try to facilitate and ensure the departure of those who want to leave,” Blinken said Wednesday.

“There’s still talks and conversations underway even now between the Taliban and former members of the Afghan government with regard, for example, to a transfer of power and some inclusivity in a future government,” he continued.

“Going forward, we will judge our engagement with any Taliban-led government in Afghanistan based on one simple proposition: our interests and does it help us advance them or not. If engagement with the government can advance the enduring interest we will have in counterterrorism, the enduring interest we will have in trying to help the Afghan people who need humanitarian assistance, the enduring interest we have in seeing that the rights of all Afghans, especially women and girls, are upheld, then we’ll do it,” he said. 

“But fundamentally, the nature of that engagement and the nature of any relationship, depends entirely on the actions and conduct of the Taliban,” Blinken added.

Blinken: There is "no deadline" to help any American or ally who wants to leave Afghanistan

Secretary of State Tony Blinken said the US is on track to complete its mission in Afghanistan by Aug. 31, but officials are making plans to provide support and facilitate departures after that date, as well.

“Let me be crystal clear about this: There is no deadline on our work to help any remaining American citizens who decide they want to leave to do so, along with the many Afghans who have stood by us over these many years and want to leave and have been unable to do so. That effort will continue every day past Aug. 31,” Blinken said.

He said the Taliban have made public and private commitments to allow safe passage for Americans and at-risk Afghans looking to leave Afghanistan.

“The United States, our allies and partners and more than half of the world’s countries, 114 in all, issued a statement making it clear to the Taliban they have a responsibility to hold that commitment and provide safe passage for anyone who wishes to leave the country — not just for the duration of our evacuation and relocation mission — but for every day thereafter. And we’re developing detailed plans for how we can continue to provide consular support and facilitate departures for those who wish to leave after August 31st,” he said.

“People who want to leave Afghanistan after the US military departs should be able to do so. Together, we will do everything we can to see that expectation is met,” Blinken said.

Blinken also underscored the danger of the current evacuation effort, noting that “we’re operating in a hostile environment in a city and country now controlled by the Taliban with the very real possibility of an ISIS-K attack.”  

State Department: Approximately 1,500 people who may be Americans left in Afghanistan

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that there are approximately 1,500 people who may be Americans left in the country, and added that when evacuation operations began, there was a population of as many as 6,000 American citizens in Afghanistan who wanted to leave.

Blinken said the US has “evacuated at least 4,500 American citizens and likely more” since Aug. 14, and more than 500 were evacuated in the last day alone.

“Over the past 24 hours we’ve been in direct contact with approximately 500 additional Americans and provided specific instructions on how to get to the airport safely,” he said. 

“For the remaining roughly 1,000 contacts that we had who may be Americans seeking to leave Afghanistan, we’re aggressively reaching out to them multiple times a day through multiple channels of communication,” Blinken said.

He noted that some may have left the country, some may not actually be Americans, and some may choose to stay. 

He said the State Department believes “the number of Americans actively seeking to leave Afghanistan is lower, likely significantly lower,” but noted that they are “dynamic” calculations. 

Blinken noted that Americans are not required to register with the State Department, making precise counts difficult. 

A senior State Department officials said the department is reaching out “incessantly” to the group of 1,000 people believed to be Americans who may wish to leave Afghanistan, but “in many cases, we have not heard back from them.”

The official said they are “using every form of contact that we have to determine a few things: number one, if they are in fact American citizens. Number two, If they wish to leave, where they are, if they would be traveling with families and how we can help them.

“So that is our focus right now, look, the fact that we were able to evacuate and start the process of repatriation of more than 500 passport holders yesterday is an indication that we’re making good progress here with the remaining individuals we believe to be American citizens,” the official said.

They said not hearing back from the people “could mean any number of things.”

“It could mean that that is the person on the end of the line isn’t in fact, a passport holder. There was some error in the data. It could mean that they’ve already left, and we certainly expect that applies to a number of Americans,” the official said, noting the department had warned US citizens for months to leave Afghanistan. 

“We are not going to leave anything to chance. That is why we are calling and re-calling, emailing and re-emailing this universe of individuals we believe may be American citizens who’re still in Afghanistan,” they said.

More than 82,000 people have been flown out of Afghanistan, US secretary of state says

Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken shared some figures today about the ongoing efforts to get Americans and other allies out of Afghanistan.

“Since August 14, more than 82,300 people have been safely flown out of Kabul. In the 24-hour period from Tuesday to Wednesday, approximately 19,000 people were evacuated on 90 US military and coalition flights,” Blinken said today during a news briefing.

Blinken added: “Only the United States could organize and execute a mission of this scale and this complexity.”

NOW: Secretary of state speaks about US evacuations in Afghanistan 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is speaking now about US efforts to evacuate Americans from Afghanistan after his remarks originally scheduled for 12:15 p.m. ET were delayed.

President Biden said Tuesday evening that he had asked Blinken to give the public “an update and a detailed report on exactly how many Americans are still in Afghanistan, how many we got out and what our projection is.”

White House officials have repeatedly said they do not know exactly how many Americans are in Afghanistan.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Monday that the US doesn’t know the exact figure because some Americans entered the country without registering with the US Embassy in Kabul and others left the country without deregistering.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby, during the Pentagon briefing on Wednesday morning, said at least 4,400 Americans had been evacuated but did not provide a total number of Americans who are still in need of evacuation.

Earlier today, the Pentagon announced that a total of 19,000 evacuees left Afghanistan in the last 24 hours, with 42 US military aircraft carrying 11,200 people and another 7,800 people evacuated by coalition partners.

The Pentagon said there are more than 10,000 people waiting at the airport to leave but that the number would change as more people arrive at the airport and as flights depart.

CNN’s Jason Hoffman, Nicole Gaouette and Jennifer Hansler contributed reporting to this post.

Kabul airport evacuations "overwhelmed the US government for almost 2 weeks running," source says

The evacuation efforts at Kabul airport are “an undertaking of historically massive proportions,” a source familiar with the current situation at Kabul airport tells CNN.  

“This is an undertaking of historically massive proportions. Even as US citizens and permanent residents continue to evacuate, the sheer number of Afghan nationals desperate to leave has overwhelmed the US government for almost two weeks running,” the source said.

“The conditions at the Kabul airport are no better for the military than for the refugees,” the source continued. “Soldiers and Marines are working for days on end in 100-plus degree heat and terrible sanitary conditions with one meal per day. Staff have limited connectivity to exercise command and control, and are overwhelmed with special interest requests from Congress, the White House, and private organizations.”

There is a common misconception that state or defense personnel are able to easily “open the gate” to meet an individual or group, the source tells CNN. “As if the most heavily fortified airport in the world is nothing more than a backyard,” the source added.  

Tension continues outside of Kabul airport as many try to escape Afghanistan

Afghans make their way through a flooded street towards a nearby airport entrance to try their chance at evacuating out of the country, in Kabul, Afghanistan on Wednesday, August 25.

As tension continues to grow in Afghanistan, so too does the chaos outside of Kabul’s international airport as time is running out for many to escape from the Taliban.

One video shared on social media shows a man who was purportedly beaten by the Taliban while he was trying to get to the airport. In the footage, the man can be seen with blood running down his face while talking to the camera saying partly in English, “They hit me bad” and that “this happened to me when I was crossing …. Airport.” In the same footage, gunshots can be heard purportedly fired by the Taliban to intimidate people. 

Another social media video showed big crowds of people waiting outside the north wall at Kabul Airport, hoping to get into the airport and holding up their documents to the US military soldiers and Nato troops who were guarding the wall.

On Tuesday during a press conference, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said, “The road, which goes to the Airport, is blocked. Afghans cannot take that road to go to the airport, but foreign nationals are allowed to take that road to the airport.”

Some context: The Pentagon announced Wednesday that a total of 19,000 evacuees left Afghanistan in the last 24 hours, with 42 US Military aircraft carrying 11,200 and another 7,800 evacuated by coalition partners.

There are currently more than 10,000 people waiting at the airport to leave, but that the number could change as more people arrive at the airport and as flights depart, Joint Staff deputy director for regional operations Army Maj. Gen. William “Hank” Taylor said in a briefing with reporters.

Evacuation of Turkish armed forces from Afghanistan begins

The Turkish Armed Forces has begun to evacuate from Kabul airport and return to Turkey after “successfully fulfilling the task entrusted to them,” the Turkish Defense Ministry said in a statement regarding Turkish soldiers serving in Afghanistan. 

The ministry announced the decision came as a result of the assessment following “various meetings, current situation and conditions.”

“Chaos at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai Airport was managed, security provided, other necessary activities carried out together with troops of other countries. In this process, 1129 civilian citizens were evacuated with our military aircraft,” statement said. 

Turkish presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin tweeted that “after fulfilling their duties in an excellent and honored way, Turkish soldiers in Afghanistan are returning home. Turkey will continue to work for the peace, security and prosperity of our Afghan brothers and sisters.”

State Department: About 500 Americans contacted in past 24 hours and given instructions to depart 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said there are about 1,500 people who may be Americans left in the country and added that when evacuation operations began, there was a population of as many as 6,000 American citizens in Afghanistan who wanted to leave.

Blinken said the US has “evacuated at least 4,500 American citizens and likely more” since Aug. 14, and more than 500 were evacuated in the last day alone.

“Over the past 24 hours we’ve been in direct contact with approximately 500 additional Americans and provided specific instructions on how to get to the airport safely,” he said.

Blinken noted that some may have left the country, some may not actually be Americans and some may choose to stay. Blinken said Americans are not required to register with the State Department, making precise counts difficult.

The State Department believes “the number of Americans actively seeking to leave Afghanistan is lower, likely significantly lower,” but noted that they are “dynamic” calculations, Blinken added.

In a briefing to congressional staff earlier today, a Senate aide told CNN the State Department said that at least 4,100 American citizens are still actively seeking to get out of Afghanistan. The source said not all the Americans are located in and around Kabul.

President Biden said Tuesday he had asked Blinken to give the public “an update and a detailed report on exactly how many Americans are still in Afghanistan, how many we got out and what our projection is.”

Earlier today, the Pentagon announced that a total of 19,000 evacuees left Afghanistan in the last 24 hours, with 42 US military aircraft carrying 11,200 people and another 7,800 people evacuated by coalition partners.

The Pentagon said there are more than 10,000 people waiting at the airport to leave but that the number would change as more people arrive at the airport and as flights depart.

Update: This post has been updated to reflect the estimated number of American citizens who may be in Afghanistan as stated by Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

CNN’s Jennifer Hansler contributed reporting to this post. 

German envoy says Taliban agree to let Afghans travel after Aug. 31

The Taliban have agreed to let Afghan nationals with legal documents travel after Aug. 31, German Ambassador to Afghanistan Markus Potzel tweeted Wednesday.

Potzel met with Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, the Deputy Head of the Taliban’s political bureau, and his team “for a comprehensive discussion” in Doha on Tuesday, Potzel said.

They discussed an “urgent need” for a functioning airport in Kabul as a prerequisite for diplomatic and NGO presence in Afghanistan.

“Director Stanekzai assured me that Afghans with legal documents will continue to have the opportunity to travel on commercial flights after 31 August,” Potzel said.

Some background: This comes one day after the Taliban said they were “not allowing the evacuation of Afghans anymore” and warned that the US must stick to next week’s deadline to pull out.

Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid told a press conference Tuesday that while foreign nationals could continue traveling to the airport, the huge crowds of Afghans that have gathered there in recent days should return home and would not face reprisals from the country’s new rulers.

“The road, which goes to the airport, is blocked. Afghans cannot take that road to go to the airport, but foreign nationals are allowed to take that road to the airport,” Mujahid said.

“We are not allowing the evacuation of Afghans anymore and we are not happy with it either,” he added.

Afghan evacuees continue to arrive in New Jersey 

Task Force McGuire-Dix Airmen prepare personal protective equipment to aid in the arrival of Afghans in support of the Department of State-led Operation Allies Refuge on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, Aug. 21.

Afghan evacuees are continuing to arrive at the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey, according to base media relations officials. 

Chief of Media Relations Derek VanHorn said in a statement that arrivals began overnight on Tuesday and are expected to continue through the coming days. 

VanHorn said the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst is one of four military installations to temporarily house Afghan evacuees including bases in Wisconsin, Texas and Virginia.  

The military installations are providing evacuees with temporary lodging, basic needs, transportation and medical screening services in a secure environment. The Department of Defense is working to build capacity at the existing military installations and potentially other locations, according to VanHorn. 

All Polish citizens who asked to leave Afghanistan have returned to Poland

All Polish citizens who requested help to leave Afghanistan have arrived in Poland, the Polish ministry of foreign affairs said Wednesday. 

“As part of the evacuation operation from Afghanistan, 12 planes have so far departed, with more than 850 people on board,” the ministry announced via Twitter. 

Poland joined the international efforts to relocate personnel from partner nations and vulnerable Afghans. “The evacuation of Afghans and people of other nationalities is currently underway,” the ministry added. 

The ministry also posted three photos to Twitter depicting the various stages of transit for those making the journey, accompanied with the hashtag #SolidarityPL. 

Blinken's speech today will focus on unprecedented effort to send Americans back to US, state official says

Secretary of State Antony Blinken listens as U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the military’s ongoing evacuation efforts in Afghanistan from the East Room of the White House on August 20 in Washington, DC. 

Secretary of State Tony Blinken will speak about the historically unprecedented effort to repatriate Americans from Afghanistan and focus on what the department has done to provide tailored assistance to the Americans as an effort to get them out of the country, according to a senior State Department official.

President Biden said yesterday that Blinken will also give specific numbers on how many Americans are still in the country and want to get out.  

“Tomorrow, I’ve asked Secretary Blinken to give you an update and a detailed report on exactly how many Americans are still in Afghanistan and how many we got out and what our projection is,” President Biden said yesterday. 

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said that 4,400 Americans had been evacuated but did not provide a total number of Americans that are still in need of evacuation, during the pentagon briefing on Wednesday morning. 

Blinken will also speak about the enduring US commitment to Afghans. But when the US leaves the airport it will be incredibly challenging for Afghans to get out of the country, as the Taliban have said they will not allow them to leave the country and it is unclear if the Kabul airport will remain open. 

The Biden administration is in touch with US allies about securing the Kabul airport and efforts to keep it up and running, the State Department official said. It is unclear if there will be any agreement to keep the airport open by the time the US military leaves. 

Kirby said that how the airport is managed when the US leaves will be the responsibility of the Taliban. He noted that the Turks still have a presence at the airport, but said he did not want to speak to their intention going forward.  

Pentagon says US lawmakers' Afghanistan visit "took time away" from missions in Kabul

The Pentagon said that they were “unaware” of the decision by Rep. Seth Moulton, a Democrat from Massachusetts, and Rep. Peter Meijer, a Republican from Michigan, to visit Afghanistan and that their visit “took time away” from the missions US military forces were planning to conduct on the day of the visit.

“We are obviously not encouraging VIP visits to a very tense, dangerous and dynamic situation at that airport and inside Kabul generally,” said Pentagon press secretary John Kirby, adding that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin “would have appreciated the opportunity” to speak with them before the visit.

Kirby added that they needed military protection while they were there, but that he didn’t know if they were taking seats that would’ve otherwise gone to evacuees when they left Kabul.

“They got a chance to talk to commanders, as I understand,” said Kirby. “They got a chance to talk to troops.”

Moulton and Meijer have been criticized by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top House Democrats for their unauthorized trip.

Pentagon: No American troops and no known American citizens killed during evacuation in Kabul

There have been no American troops killed during the non-combatant evacuation in Kabul of Americans and at-risk Afghans, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said during a briefing on Wednesday. Only one US troop service member has been injured during the evacuation effort, Kirby added.

No American citizens have been killed since the evacuation mission began on Aug. 14, Kirby said, but he also clarified the US military does not have “perfect visibility” into everything going on in Kabul.

“I know of no American citizens who have been killed on this, so I don’t know of any, now we don’t have perfect visibility into everything going on in Kabul, but we know of no American causalities,” Kirby said.

US used helicopters to bring people to Kabul airport Tuesday night, Pentagon says

The US military conducted a third extraction operation by helicopter in Kabul on Tuesday night to bring a group of people from outside of the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul to the airport for evacuation, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby and Gen. Hank Taylor, Joint Staff deputy director for regional operations, told reporters during a briefing on Wednesday. 

“Last night during the period of darkness, there was an operation to be able to go out and safely evacuate evacuees back into Kabul, they were at HKIA, and they are safely there preparing to be evacuated,” Taylor said.

Kirby said it was a group of about 20 people who were brought to the airport by helicopter, but would not provide further details about the operation.

This is the third instance that the Pentagon has confirmed of US troops using helicopters to bring people in Kabul outside of the airport gates to the airport for evacuation. 

"Lives will always be the priority" throughout evacuation process, Pentagon says

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby made clear that lives would always take priority over any military equipment or artillery as the US hurries to meet next week’s Aug. 31 withdrawal deadline.

“As we get closer to the end, there will be some equipment and systems that we will probably take with us as we leave … but lives will always be the chief priority throughout this entire process,” he continued. 

Asked by a reporter if that referred to lives of all nationalities, Kirby said: “Lives will always be the priority throughout this process.”

Pentagon outlines how US evacuation efforts in Afghanistan will unfold during final days of mission 

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby described how the US plans to carry out evacuation efforts as the country prepares to withdraw troops from Afghanistan in less than a week.

“We will continue to evacuate needed populations all the way to the end if we have to and we need to. If you’re an evacuee that we can get out, we’re going to continue to get you out right up until the end,” Kirby said.

He noted that in the “last couple of days” the US will try to preserve “as much capability as we can at the airport” and begin to shift priorities to get US military assets out.

“We will begin to prioritize military capabilities and military resources to move out. That doesn’t mean that if you’re an evacuee and you need to get out, that we’re not going to try to get you out, but we will have to reserve some capacity in those last couple of days to prioritize the military footprint leaving because we want to be able to keep it there as long as possible to do the job that it’s intended to do,” Kirby added.

Kirby made clear that lives would always take priority over any military equipment or artillery as the US hurries to meet the withdrawal deadline.

President Biden said Tuesday the US is on track to complete its airlift in Afghanistan by Aug. 31. Biden recognized the success of the mission will depend largely on cooperation from the Taliban.

He said he’s asked military leaders to be ready with contingency options to “adjust that timetable” if it becomes necessary.

About 1,200 evacuees landed in DC in the past 24 hours

Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor.

Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor, the vice director for logistics of the Joint Staff, said about 1,200 evacuees from Afghanistan have landed in the Washington, DC, area in the past day.

“Several thousand evacuees have arrived in the United States so far and will continue to do so,” he said at a news conference Wednesday. “In the past 24 hours, five flights landed at Dulles International Airport with approximately 1,200 passengers.”

US evacuation efforts have ramped up as the mission deadline nears. Yesterday, President Biden the US is on track to complete its hurried airlift in Afghanistan by Aug. 31,acknowledging he does not plan to keep American troops in the country any longer even as questions remain over who will be able to leave and when.

Pentagon: Every 39 minutes yesterday a plane carrying evacuees departed Kabul airport

Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor.

Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor, the vice director for logistics of the Joint Staff, said that the US military and its allied partners have evacuated 19,000 in a 24-hour period.

“Since the US and coalition forces began the evacuation to date, approximately 88,000 have safely departed from Afghanistan. Every 39 minutes yesterday a plane departed Kabul airport.”

He said that 90 flights total left the Kabul airport yesterday.

He said that there are “more than 10,000 people currently” at the airport awaiting departure.

Taliban tell working women to stay at home until security is in place

Burqa clad Afghan women shop at a market area in Kabul on August 23.

Working women in Afghanistan should stay at home until sufficient security is in place to ensure their safety, Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid said at a news conference on Tuesday. 

In response to a question about women from government ministries and office workers not being able to enter buildings, Mujahid said the Taliban will come up with specific procedures to ensure women’s safety and that they are not “treated in a disrespectful way,” or “God forbid, hurt.” 

“So we would like them to stay home until security is in place for them in the offices,” he said. 

“There is going to be a terms of reference and new procedures in place, as well as clear instructions as to how they should work. No one is going to be fired, everyone will receive a salary,” he continued.

Muja