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First United Airlines flight with evacuees from Afghanistan lands in US

An image provide by United Airlines shows the airline's first evacuation flight with evacuees from Afghanistan on board after its arrival at a privateaircraft ramp at Dulles International Airport .

United Airlines says its first evacuation flight with evacuees from Afghanistan on board has arrived on US soil.

The Boeing 777-300 arrived at Dulles International Airport in Virginia Monday afternoon after flying more than 14 hours from Al Udeid Air Base in Doha, Qatar, with a stop at Ramstein Air Base in Germany to refuel. There were roughly 340 people on board, the airlines said.

The flight was chartered by the military, activated through an agreement between the airline and the government known as the Civil Air Reserve Fleet.

About 10,900 people were evacuated over a 12-hour period from Kabul today

In this image provided by the U.S. Marine Corps, families begin to board a U.S. Air Force Boeing C-17 Globemaster III during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, August 23.

Approximately 10,900 people have been evacuated from Kabul over a 12-hour stretch on Monday, according to a White House official.

Fifteen US military C-17 aircraft and 34 coalition flights helped with the evacuations.

“From August 23 at 3:00 AM EDT to August 23 at 3:00 PM EDT, a total of approximately 10,900 people were evacuated from Kabul. This is the result of 15 U.S. military flights (all C-17s), which carried approximately 6,660 evacuees, and 34 coalition flights, which carried 4,300 people,” a White House official said in a statement.

Earlier Monday, the White House said the US had evacuated 10,400 people from Kabul in the previous 24-hour stretch.

Biden still deciding whether to extend Aug. 31 deadline, official says

As of Monday, US President Joe Biden was still deciding whether to extend the deadline for removing all US troops from Afghanistan, CNN has learned. 

Military advisers have told the President he must decide by Tuesday to provide enough time to withdraw the troops and equipment on the ground in Kabul. An administration official told CNN on Monday that Biden could signal his decision during his virtual meeting with G7 leaders on Tuesday. 

Several of Biden’s advisers have advised against an extension, citing the security situation on the ground. Officials have spent recent days monitoring potential terrorist threats, aware that the chaotic situation outside the airfield has created a target for the terror group ISIS-K and other organizations. 

Here's how to help Afghan refugees

The refugee crisis in Afghanistan is growing as the Taliban take over the country.

Since the start of this year, 550,000 Afghans were forced to flee their homes due to internal fighting, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Now, tens of thousands more are trying to leave the country as many Afghans, especially women and children, fear a resumption of Islamic fundamentalism under the Taliban.

Others, including interpreters who helped the US Military fight the Taliban, fear retribution. Afghan journalists who have been covering the war are also at particularly high risk.

You can help these refugees through non-profits providing protection, shelter, water and healthcare both in Afghanistan and elsewhere. CNN’s Impact Your World has compiled a list of vetted organizations accepting donations. To contribute, click here.

If you are a family member or friend of someone trying to flee Afghanistan — or need help yourself, the International Refugee Assistance Project has legal resources to help with visas and other information. If you are currently in Afghanistan, please check the US Embassy website regularly for information about relocation and repatriation.

UK Prime Minister will urge G7 leaders to strengthen support for Afghan people

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will call on G7 leaders Tuesday to continue to stand by the Afghan people and to strengthen support for refugees and humanitarian aid, according to a Downing Street statement Monday. 

Leaders of the G7 are due to meet virtually on Tuesday to discuss a joint approach to securing a more stable future for Afghanistan. Johnson will chair the meeting and is expected to urge international partners to match the UK’s commitments on aid and the resettlement of those most in need, the statement said.  

The meeting will take place by video conference and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and UN Secretaries-General have also been invited to join the discussion.

“Our first priority is to complete the evacuation of our citizens and those Afghans who have assisted our efforts over the last 20 years – but as we look ahead to the next phase, it’s vital we come together as an international community and agree a joint approach for the longer term,” Johnson said ahead of the conference. 

“Together with our partners and allies, we will continue to use every humanitarian and diplomatic lever to safeguard human rights and protect the gains made over the last two decades. The Taliban will be judged by their deeds and not their words,” Johnson added. 

According to the statement, G7 leaders are also expected to reiterate their commitment to safeguarding the gains made in Afghanistan over the last 20 years — in particular on girls’ education and the rights of women and minorities. Discussions are set to cover ongoing collaboration on evacuation efforts at Kabul airport and long-term work to secure a more stable future for Afghanistan and ensure any new government is inclusive and abides by its international obligations.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, speaking in Berlin on Monday, said the G7 nations need to coordinate evacuation efforts from Kabul airport and address the topic of migration. “How will the migration flows be dealt with? Who will be taking on which responsibilities and who can take on which tasks in the process?” Maas asked.

As of Monday, the UK had secured the evacuation of 6,631 people out of Kabul since Operation Pitting began last week, which includes British nationals and their dependents, embassy staff, and Afghan nationals under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) program.

The UK has committed up to $392 million in humanitarian aid to the region, and last week announced a bespoke resettlement scheme that is set to relocate up to 20,000 vulnerable Afghans.

Discussions with Taliban have been focused on Kabul airport operations, State Department says

State Department spokesperson Ned Price

State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Monday that discussions with the Taliban have been “operational” and “tactical,” “focused largely on our near term operations and our near term goals.”

“Those near term operations and those near term goals in the first instance are focused on what is going at the airport compound at [Hamid Karzai International Airport],” Price said at a press briefing.

He said discussions around those operations “to remove our people, our partners and third country nationals from Afghanistan…have been pretty involved,” but declined to go into details.

Price noted the US has begun “to have conversations about what the international community would want to see of any future government in Afghanistan and to be very clear about what would be unacceptable to us.”

Biden administration must decide if it will extend Afghanistan mission in Kabul by Tuesday, official says

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby with U.S. Army Maj. Gen. William Taylor, Joint Staff Operations, speaks about the situation in Afghanistan during a briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, Monday, August 23.

The Biden administration must decide on Tuesday whether it will try to extend the evacuation mission in Afghanistan beyond Aug. 31, according to a defense official directly familiar with the discussions.

The military is advising the White House the decision must be made on Tuesday in order to have enough time to withdraw the 5,800 troops currently on the ground and their equipment and weapons.

If the President agrees, the military anticipates “a few more days” of trying to evacuate as many people as possible before the drawdown of US forces begins, possibly by the end of this week.

The Pentagon says they are aware of the Taliban’s statement that the US must remove all forces by Aug. 31, and that they are still currently planning to meet that deadline.

“That is the mission we’ve been assigned by the commander in chief assigned to us, and that’s what we’re trying to execute,” said Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby at a briefing with reporters.

However Kirby added that “if there needs to be a discussion about extending that timeline, then we absolutely will have that discussion at the appropriate time with the commander in chief.”

On Sunday, Biden admitted there are discussions about extending the Aug. 31 deadline for US troops to leave Afghanistan.

“There’s discussions going on among us and the military about extending,” Biden told reporters Sunday. “Our hope is we will not have to extend, but they are going to be discussions.” He said the decision might depend “on how far along we are in the process” of evacuating Americans.

Biden was also asked if G7 leaders — who he is scheduled to meet with Tuesday — ask the US to stay longer, would he comply.

“We’ll see what we can do,” he said he would tell the leaders.

CNN’s Veronica Stracqualursi, Betsy Klein and Nikki Carvajal contributed reporting to this post. 

US air base in Germany reaches capacity with 7,800 evacuees from Afghanistan

There are currently at least 7,800 evacuees from Afghanistan waiting to depart Ramstein Air Base in Germany for the US, the German Public Affairs Office told CNN on Monday.  

Over the last three days, 39 flights have landed at the base from Kabul International Airport.

So far, only one flight — a KC-10 carrying 60 passengers — has left the base for the US, which means the base is now over capacity. 

A CNN team at the base has been told there are three commercial flights ready to depart. However, none appear to be leaving soon. 

Ramstein is one of the largest US air bases outside America, and has now been transformed into a temporary transit point for evacuees to the US.

At least 3 babies have been born during Afghanistan evacuation operations, US official says 

Medical support personnel help an Afghan mother, whose identity has been digitally obscured at source, with her family off a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport aircraft moments after she delivered a child aboard the aircraft upon landing at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, on August 21. 

At least three babies have been born during the evacuation from Afghanistan, Gen. Steve Lyons, the commander of US transportation command, told reporters during a press briefing Monday.

One of those babies was born as a C-17 landed at Ramstein Air Base from Doha, Qatar, but Lyons said there were two more, though he offered no details on where or when they were born.

“I really appreciate the news reporting on the baby being born, as that flight came in to Ramstein. As a matter of fact, there’s actually been more than that. Just an incredible, incredible operation ongoing, you know, just impressive work by our great airmen,” Lyons said. 

Reporters, surprised there were more, immediately asked for how many.

“My last data point was three,” Lyons said.

It was unclear if the other two babies were specifically born on flights or if they were born on one of the temporary bases where they are being housed, such as Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, Ramstein in Germany, or another base.

Biden administration is "working through" how to offer Covid-19 vaccines to Afghan evacuees arriving in the US

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday indicated that the federal government is determining how it will offer Covid-19 vaccinations to Afghan evacuees arriving in the US.

“We are working through offering vaccines and what that process will look like,” Psaki said during the White House press briefing. “I hope to have more of an update on that for you in the next day or two.”

 Psaki also confirmed that the evacuees arriving in the US are being tested for Covid-19.

National security adviser says he has not heard Biden talk about any firings due to Afghanistan withdrawal

National security adviser Jake Sullivan speaks during a press briefing at the White House on August 23.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan said he has not heard US President Joe Biden discuss any potential firings of White House or administration officials in the wake of the chaotic evacuation of US personnel and others from Afghanistan.

“I have not heard him say so. It’s of course your job to ask those kinds of questions. It’s my job just to keep doing what we’re doing, which is every day trying to get as many people out as possible,” Sullivan said during a press briefing on Monday.

CNN has previously reported that a senior White House official said there are no plans for anyone to be fired or resign over how the exit unfolded, as some critics have suggested.

US believes it has "wherewithal to get out the American citizens who want to leave Kabul," Biden adviser says

An American military transport plane lands at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 22.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan expressed optimism that the US will be able to get any and all Americans who want to leave Afghanistan out before the Aug. 31 deadline for US troops to leave the country.

“In the days remaining, we believe we have the wherewithal to get out the American citizens who want to leave Kabul,” Sullivan said during a White House press briefing on Monday.

Sullivan did note that the US doesn’t know exactly how many Americans are left in Afghanistan because some Americans entered the country without registering with the US Embassy in Kabul and others left the country without deregistering. Despite that, Sullivan said it is the responsibility of the American government to find those Americans, something he insisted the US is doing.

“The question is, are we on track to fulfill our objectives of this operation? To bring out our people, so many of those Afghans who helped us, and so many of those Afghans at risk, and we believe we are,” Sullivan added.

The national security adviser said the US is in touch with the Taliban on a daily basis through both political and security channels after a Taliban spokesperson said it would be a red-line for any US troops to remain in the country past the Aug. 31 deadline.

However, Sullivan said that it will be President Biden’s decision, and his alone, as to whether to keep any US troops in Afghanistan past the end of the month to assist in evacuations 

“As I said, we are engaging with the Taliban, consulting with the Taliban on every aspect of what’s happening in Kabul right now… We’ll continue those conversations with them. Ultimately, it will be the President’s decision how this proceeds, no one else’s,” he said.

On Sunday, the President admitted there are discussions happening about extending the Aug. 31 deadline for US troops to leave Afghanistan, but he still expressed hope that wouldn’t be necessary. 

Sullivan also said the President is hopeful that the US won’t need to keep any troops in the country past the 31st given the pace of evacuations from Afghanistan currently happening.

President Biden spoke with British prime minister on Afghanistan

US President Joe Biden spoke with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the situation in Afghanistan, his second time speaking with Johnson since the Taliban took control of Kabul.

“They discussed the ongoing efforts by our diplomatic and military personnel to evacuate their citizens, local staff, and other vulnerable Afghans. They also discussed plans for the G7 virtual leaders’ meeting tomorrow, underscoring the importance of close coordination with allies and partners in managing the current situation and forging a common approach to Afghanistan policy,” the readout says in part.

Johnson was the first foreign leader Biden spoke with about the situation in Afghanistan. The two also spoke last Tuesday.

Pentagon: US military is bringing people to Kabul airport when "there’s a need and there's a capability" 

US military members are going into the city of Kabul and bringing people to the Kabul airport “when there’s a need and there’s a capability to meet that need,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said during a briefing with reporters on Monday.

Kirby stressed these instances are not occurring on a “regular” basis, but “on occasion, when there’s a need and there’s a capability to meet that need, our commanders on the ground are doing what they feel they need to do to help Americans reach the airport.”  

There has been “one additional instance” where helicopters have been used to bring evacuees to the Kabul airport, Kirby said, but he did not provide details about where and when this instance occurred.

This additional instance is in addition to the previously reported situation where four US military Chinook helicopters extracted 169 people from the roof of the Baron Hotel and transported them to the airport last Thursday. 

When asked about the ability for US troops in Kabul to get people in need of evacuation out of Kabul and to the airport last week, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said the US troops based there did not have the ability to go into the city, collect “large groups” of people and bring them to the airport.

Kirby said there will not be additional troops sent in before Aug. 31 to assist with these types of extraction missions when asked.

"Several thousand" Americans and family members still want to leave Afghanistan, state official says

A senior State Department official on Monday indicated there are “several thousand” Americans and family members who are still seeking to leave Afghanistan.

“Our understanding that there are several thousand Americans who want to come, these are Americans and family members,” the official said on a call with reporters. 

“And so we are working very hard. As I said, there are phone banks, email, texts, getting in touch with Americans in every way we can, helping them through the methodology we have established, that I’m not going to discuss in detail for security reasons, able to then bring them in groups to the airport,” they said.

They described that “methodology” as a means “to help discrete groups move to the airport in a way that keeps them secure, organized, avoid security risks at the airport and large crowds, gets them in the door and onto airplanes.”

“We are then looking at LES staff, locally employed staff, and SIVs,” they said, referencing Special Immigrant Visas. “This is a very, very intensive process.”

“We have a lot of troops there. But the perimeter of the airport is something like 10 kilometers, so they not only have to take care of the security of the airport, but then the security of the people coming into the airport, the security of the people getting on the airplane, deal with any dustups that takes place — and tragically, there were some people who have died in this process and crowds of people who are very desperate,” they said. “We’ve tried to push the perimeter out of the airport.”

UK Armed Forces continue to evacuate British nationals and Afghan civilians from Kabul airport 

UK Armed Forces continue to safely evacuate British nationals and Afghan civilians from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, the Ministry of Defence said in a statement on Monday.  

Photos released by the MOD showed British servicemen in and around the Kabul airport who continue to take part in the evacuation of “entitled personnel,” the statement said. One image depicted an Afghan woman with two young children being processed ahead of their departure flight to the UK.  

Military personnel “have been identifying, processing, loading and flying entitled personnel 24 hours a day to the UK” as part of Operation PITTING, according to the statement.   

The Armed Forces have also continued to fly in and distribute humanitarian aid to support UK and Afghan nationals in the evacuation chain. This includes several thousand diapers, baby wipes, bottles of pre-made baby milk, sanitary pads, plus blankets and coloring books.  

British forces will remain in place to ensure those Afghans who are eligible for relocation to the UK are registered and evacuated, as the UK accelerates the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (ARAP), the statement added. 

The latest numbers: So far, 6,631 Afghan nationals have been evacuated since the ARAP scheme began April 1, a Ministry of Defence spokesperson told CNN without specifying how many of them were evacuated since August 15. 

"We were abandoned": Woman in Kabul expresses frustration with international response as Taliban take over

Mahbouba Seraj gives an interview to The Associated Press in Kabul, on Saturday, April 24.

The future of Afghanistan is uncertain as people in Kabul, specifically women and girls, feel “abandoned” by the international community, Mahbouba Seraj, the executive director of the Afghan Women Skills Development Center, said.

“The city of Kabul is completely, completely crippled,” she told CNN on Monday.

Seraj said women are staying inside because of a combination of fear that the Taliban won’t keep their promises and the intimidation of their presence in the city.

“I could say that there is not one single woman in the whole of Afghanistan that could or would feel safe after the Taliban have arrived,” she said.

Seraj said words are not good enough anymore – people need to see action. This does not just apply to the Taliban, but also to other countries like the US, she noted.

“Not words. Words are not good enough anymore,” she said “I haven’t seen those promises coming through from anyone. I haven’t seen the promises coming through from the government of the United States.”

She said she decided to stay in Afghanistan because she still has responsibilities in Kabul, and wants to see if there is any way she can help those in the community who depend on her, adding she feels like she cannot just “leave all of them and run.”

“The international community abandoned everybody, especially women and girls. Go and ask every single person on the street of Kabul if you can find somebody. Ask them how do they feel. They’re going to tell you abandoned,” Seraj said.

Pentagon: Medical personnel at Kabul airport are testing for Covid-19 among evacuees who are symptomatic

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby addressed Covid-19 concerns for evacuees and US military personnel during a news briefing and said that medical personnel at Hamid Karzai International Airport are conducting Covid-19 screens for those who are symptomatic.

“As I understand it, medical personnel at the Hamid Karzai International Airport are conducting Covid screening for those who are febrile or symptomatic,” Kirby said.

Kirby added, that additional screens for evacuees are potentially being done depending on what the guidelines are at specific temporary safe haven locations. Those passengers arriving to the US undergo additional Covid-19 screens as well.

“And then as appropriate, depending on what the temporary safe haven, what the guidelines are at the temporary safe havens, additional screenings at some of those safe havens occur. And then upon arrival at the United States, all passengers are being tested upon arrival and then medical professionals make the proper decisions after that,” Kirby said.  

Kirby also noted that there are concerns for US soldiers potentially testing positive for Covid-19, but that he currently does not have details on that information.

“I don’t have that level of detail. I don’t know what positive results that may have come in for soldiers working at the airfield… But obviously, their health and safety remains a top concern for all of us,” Kirby said.

Pentagon "trying" to meet Aug. 31 deadline for full withdrawal from Afghanistan, press secretary says

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby speaks during a news briefing at the Pentagon on August 17, in Arlington, Virginia.

The Pentagon says they are aware of the Taliban’s statement that the US must remove all forces by Aug. 31, and that they are still currently planning to meet that deadline. 

“That is the mission we’ve been assigned by the commander in chief assigned to us, and that’s what we’re trying to execute,” said Pentagon press secretary John Kirby at a briefing with reporters. 

However, Kirby added, “if there needs to be a discussion about extending that timeline, then we absolutely will have that discussion at the appropriate time with the commander in chief.” 

Kirby said he would not go into the “specificity” of the Defense Department’s communications with the Taliban, which he said happen “several times a day.” 

A Taliban spokesperson said Monday that if US troops were still in the country after that, “our leadership will take proper and necessary decision[s].”

In remarks yesterday, President Biden admitted there are discussions about extending the Aug. 31 deadline for US troops to leave Afghanistan.

“There’s discussions going on among us and the military about extending,” Biden told reporters Sunday. “Our hope is we will not have to extend, but they are going to be discussions.” He said the decision might depend “on how far along we are in the process” of evacuating Americans.

CNN’s Veronica Stracqualursi, Betsy Klein and Nikki Carvajal contributed reporting to this post. 

Pentagon: "Several thousand” Americans have been evacuated from Afghanistan since Aug. 14

Members of U.S. forces guide evacuees aboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said “several thousand Americans” have been evacuated from Afghanistan since Aug. 14.

When pressed on getting a more exact number of how many Americans have been evacuated out of the country, Kirby said he could not specify more than “several thousand” because the number is “very fluid.” 

16,000 people have been evacuated out of Kabul within the last 24 hours, US general says

Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor speaks during a news briefing at the Pentagon on August 16, in Arlington, Virginia.

Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor, deputy director of the Joint Regional Operations, said that around 16,000 people have been evacuated out of Kabul over the last 24 hours using both military and commercial charter flights.

“As of this morning, within the last 24 hours, 25 US military C-17s, three US military C-130s, and then a combination of 61 charter commercial and other military flights departed Kabul. The total passenger count for those flights was approximately 16,000. Of that number, the US military transported just under 11,000 personnel,” Taylor said during a Pentagon news briefing.

Taylor also said that five flights with approximately 1,300 passengers landed at Dulles International Airport near Washington, DC, in the past day.

US military installations at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, Fort Lee, Virginia, Joint Base McGuire-Dix, Lakehurst, New Jersey, and Fort Bliss, Texas are taking Afghans as they come into the US for further processing.

Taylor said the focus of the mission remains to ensure a “a steady flow of evacuees out of Kabul to the intermediate staging bases and safe havens at our insulations” that continue to “rapidly build out capacity as needed to ensure reception and providing humanitarian assistance.”

Evacuees are being sent to temporary safe haven locations across Europe and the Middle East that include US installations in Qatar, the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Italy, Spain and Germany, ” Taylor said.

“We deeply appreciate the support from these countries. This is truly a testament to the importance of our alliances and our partnerships,” Taylor said.

CNN’s Michael Conte contributed reporting to this post. 

Member of Afghan forces killed after "brief exchange of gunfire" outside Kabul airport

One member of the Afghan security forces was killed and several Afghans were wounded after a hostile actor fired on Afghan security forces monitoring the north gate of Hamid Karzai International Airport on Sunday.

After the hostile actor fired, Afghan security forces responded with a “brief exchange of gunfire,” a release from US Central Command said.

“No US or coalition forces were hurt” during the exchange, the release said. The wounded are being treated at a hospital on the airfield and are in “stable condition,” the release said.

The incident “appeared to begin when an unknown hostile actor fired upon Afghan security forces involved in monitoring the gate.” After the hostile actor fired, “the Afghans returned fire, and in keeping with their right of self-defense, so too did U.S. and coalition troops,” US Central Command Navy Capt. William Urban, US CENTCOM spokesperson, said in the statement. 

Asked about the incident at the Pentagon briefing, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said “we cannot rule out out who the hostile actor was in this shooting incident last night.”

“Our focus was on making sure that we could maintain security at the airport. It was maintained. Sadly it resulted in the life of one Afghan soldier and wounded several others,” he said.  

Four military instillations and Dulles International receiving Afghans as they come into the US

Evacuees from Kabul, Afghanistan board a bus after arriving at Washington Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, Virginia, on Saturday, August 21.

Maj. General Hank Taylor, the vice director for logistics of the Joint Staff, said four military sites and Dulles International Airport outside of Washington, DC, are receiving Afghans as they come into the United States.

These include Ft. McCoy in Wisconsin, Ft. Lee in Virginia, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey and Ft. Bliss in Texas, Taylor said on Monday.

He said right now there are about 1,200 people at these installations and capacity will continue to be built out to “ensure they are prepared to receive more flights that will come in the next few days,” Taylor said.

“This is absolutely a worldwide effort, which hits several countries, multiple commands and thousands of service members across the joint force,” he said.

Around 4,000 locally employed embassy staff at Kabul airport gates are SIV candidates, source says

People wait outside Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 23.

The number of locally employed embassy staff trying to get to Kabul airport who are cleared or eligible for a Special Immigrant Visa (SIVs) could be as high as around 4,000 people, a source close to the situation on the ground told CNN on Monday. 

The source said that this number includes their family members and added that from the 4,000 number very few people were thought to have been able to get to the airport.

CNN has previously reported that US forces stopped allowing applicants who hold a SIV to enter Kabul airport and are prioritizing US citizens and residents, while they work through a backlog of evacuees.

The source added that there were no further plans to continue the operation past the August 31 deadline.

US prioritizing evacuating Americans and legal permanent residents out of Kabul

In this handout photo provided by the U.S. Air Force, an air crew assists evacuees aboard a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft during evacuations at Hamid Karzai International Airport on August 21.

Afghans who have applied for Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) to the US were told to stay away from Kabul’s airport on Monday, as American officials ramped up evacuation flights. The Taliban said all US forces needed to leave Afghanistan by Aug. 31. 

Western countries are now in a frantic race to complete what US President Joe Biden last week called “one of the largest, most difficult airlifts in history,” amid harrowing scenes at the airport of tens of thousands of people trying to flee Taliban rule.

Amid the scramble to evacuate, many Afghans have essentially been pushed to the back of the queue. 

“We are currently prioritizing American citizens and legal permanent residents for entry,” John Johnson, Public Affairs Officer for the US Embassy in Kabul, told CNN Monday. “Due to a deteriorating security environment we are asking all others not to come to the airport at this time – the gates remain closed.”

A source close to the situation at the airport told CNN that while current policy is to only let US and NATO citizens into the airport, they hoped to soon move to permitting applicants for the US’ Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program – an avenue for Afghans who worked for US forces and agencies to get out of the country – along with the US embassy’s local Afghan staff.

On the deadline: “August 31 is the deadline announced by them. The US must adhere to removing troops from Afghanistan by this date. Otherwise, it will be a clear violation,” Taliban Spokesman Sohail Shaheen told CNN on Monday. He said that if there was a delay, “our leadership will take proper and necessary decisions.”

After that date, Shaheen said those who wanted to leave “can do so through usual way of using commercial flights and having proper documents like passports and visas.”

Around 13,000 evacuees, most of them Afghans, remain at Kabul airport, source says 

The number of people in the Kabul airport awaiting evacuation swelled to around 20,000 over the weekend but had been reduced to around 13,000 on Monday, a source familiar with the situation told CNN.

Most of them are Afghans, the source said, adding that the number of US citizens at the airport was now in the low hundreds.

The airport was increasingly chaotic in terms of who was allowed in, with special forces — Afghan and American — looking out for their former Afghan colleagues. “It’s quickly becoming the Wild West,” said the source. “[Special] operators are pulling people through gates left and right.”

 Even with the new flight restrictions, thousands of Afghans, mostly military-age men with “no documentation,” remained on the airport grounds, the source said. They had arrived on the second day during the “everyone gets in” lapse in filtering entrants.

The source said there were “no plans to kick people off the airport,” potentially leaving thousands in limbo.

One reason for the chaos was the decision to issue electronic visas, without names or document numbers, to SIV applicants. The visas were then copied as screenshots and sent by Afghans to thousands of other Afghans who were not eligible for access to the airport, a source told CNN at the weekend.

Read more about where evacuations stand in Kabul here.

Taliban appoints acting governor of Afghanistan Central Bank

The Taliban has appointed Haji Mohammad Edrees as the acting governor of Da Afghanistan Bank (Afghanistan’s Central Bank) Monday, according to a tweet from Taliban spokesman Zabidullah Mujahid. 

“For better management of government departments and banking issues and in order to address the problems of the people, Islamic Emirate leadership appointed honorable Haji Mohammad Edrees as the acting head of the De Afghanistan Bank,” Mujahid wrote in his tweet.

Kabul airport gates remain closed to Special Immigrant Visa applicants, US embassy confirms

People gather near a gate of Kabul airport on August 22.

After CNN reported Monday that US forces had stopped allowing applicants for the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) to enter Kabul airport, a public affairs officer for the US Embassy in Kabul, John Johnson, said “we are currently prioritizing” American citizens and legal permanent residents for entry.

A source told CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh on Monday that the current policy is to only let US and NATO citizens into the airport base, but that they hoped soon to move to permitting SIVs and also the US Embassy’s local Afghan staff.

The US’ Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program is an avenue for Afghans who worked for US forces and agencies to get out of the country.

Jordan approves transit of 2,500 Afghan nationals heading to the US

Jordan has agreed to allow the transit of 2,500 Afghan nationals making their way to the United States, for “humanitarian reasons” and to “address the crisis in Afghanistan,” the Jordanian foreign ministry said in a statement on Monday.

The evacuated Afghan nationals will transit in Jordan, and the arrangements have been agreed on with the US, the Jordanian foreign ministry spokesperson, Ambassador Daifallah Alfayez said, according to the statement.

Biden expected to face tough questions from G7 Tuesday on extending Afghanistan timeline

US President Joe Biden speaks from the White House on August 22, in Washington, DC.

G7 leaders are planning to press President Biden hard on extending the Aug. 31 deadline for US troops to withdraw from Afghanistan during a Tuesday virtual meeting, officials say. Biden has not publicly committed to such a move, worrying some allies who fear there won’t be enough time to get their citizens and Afghan allies out.

Biden indicated on Sunday that discussions were underway about the potential for remaining in the country longer. But the Taliban has signaled they view the Aug. 31 date as firm. 

Tuesday’s effort is expected to be led by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is the current G7 president under its rotating leadership. There is an expectation as well that French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will also apply pressure. Macron, in a phone call with Biden last week, told the President the west could not abandon vulnerable Afghan allies.

Biden has discussed the timeline in individual telephone calls with G7 leaders over the past week, including Johnson, Merkel and Macron, but hasn’t committed firmly to remaining in Kabul past the end of the month, officials said. 

At a closed-door meeting of NATO foreign ministers on Friday, several European allies publicly raised their desire to keep troops past August 31 in order to get more people out of Afghanistan, a person familiar with the meeting said. The US was non-committal. 

“Our hope is we will not have to extend, but there are discussions,” Biden said on Sunday. He suggested the US would consult with the Taliban in deciding whether to remain past the end of the month. 

“I will tell them ‘We will see what we can do,’” he said when asked what he’d tell G7 leaders if they asked for an extension of the deadline. 

US evacuates 10,400 from Kabul, the most people in 24-hour period to date, White House says

The US evacuated 10,400 people from Kabul on Sunday, according to a White House official. 

This is largest number in 24 hours by US military aircraft. The administration is now hitting a number that exceeds the 5,000 to 9,000 capacity range they had previously cited. 

Here’s a look at the latest numbers from the White House:

  • From Aug. 22 at 3 a.m. ET to Aug. 23 at 3 a.m. ET, 28 US military flights (25 C-17s and 3 C-130s) evacuated about 10,400 people from Kabul.
  • At least 61 coalition aircraft evacuated about 5,900 people.
  • Since Aug. 14, the U.S. has evacuated and facilitated the evacuation of about 37,000 people. Since the end of July, we have relocated about 42,000 people.

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