Pressure is building on the Biden administration to speed up evacuation. About 1,500 people have been flown out, but 11,000 Americans are still inside.
During a Wednesday afternoon press conference Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin made a stunning admission on the situation in Kabul which immediately came under fire from the press pool: “We don’t have the capability to go out and collect large numbers of people.”
While he was responding to the avalanche of criticism aimed at the White House and Pentagon for essentially abandoning to the Taliban the tens of thousands of local Afghan translators and staffers who spent years helping US and NATO forces, the further alarming reality remains that thousands of Americans are still trapped in and around Kabul international airport. A CBS News foreign correspondent posted the below video showing the still chaotic situation as Americans are trying to access the airport under extremely dangerous circumstances, through barbed wire and blockaded military checkpoints. “Get us!” one woman is heard screaming and pleading with the American troops standing on the other side of the blockaded North Gate entrance to the airport.
— Ruffini (@EenaRuffini) August 18, 2021
After Monday’s events which saw thousands of desperate Afghanis flood the airport runways, making it nearly impossible for aircraft to take off, also resulting in multiple deaths, US troops have closed off and barricaded whole sections of the airport.
At the same time the unbelievable overnight (local time) scenes of desperation unfolded, over at the Pentagon briefing Secretary Austin said further, “All of this is very personal for me. This is a war that I fought in and led. We have a moral obligation to help those who helped us and I feel the urgency deeply.”
Yet the crisis continues to spiral…
— Disclose.tv 🚨 (@disclosetv) August 18, 2021
AMERICANS STRANDED: Pressure is building on the Biden administration to speed up the evacuation from Afghanistan. About 1,500 people have been flown out since Saturday, but 11,000 Americans are still inside the country which is now under Taliban control. pic.twitter.com/bFCBCNUODW
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) August 17, 2021
Meanwhile, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman also issued remarks, specifically addressing reports that currently Taliban militants are blocking all outside access to the Kabul airport:
“[We] are engaging directly with the Taliban to make clear we expect them to allow all American citizens all 3rd-country nationals who wish to leave to do so safely & without harassment.”
Scenes outside #KabulAirport are just heartbreaking. Families that are trying to get out of the country but aren’t on the list for flights before with British soldiers, who have no choice but to turn them away, back down the road towards #Taliban checkpoints. pic.twitter.com/MwXwThnrPJ
— Jane Ferguson (@JaneFerguson5) August 18, 2021
— Matt Zeller (@mattczeller) August 18, 2021
This is apparently creating a “trapped” no-man’s land situation where throngs of people are stuck between the Taliban and internal US military perimeter, making it impossible to go anywhere.
Many are also still in Kabul itself, The Washington Post is reporting, “Thousands of U.S. citizens are trapped in Kabul with no ability to get to the airport. As Taliban soldiers go door to door, searching for Westerners, these U.S. citizens are now reaching out to Washington for help.
“Help! The Taliban is coming!” – a young Afghan woman is heard tearfully pleading with US soldiers in another harrowing clip which emerged Wednesday…
“Help! Taliban is coming. Taliban is coming.”
— Frud Bezhan فرود بيژن (@FrudBezhan) August 18, 2021
Americans are stuck in Afghanistan and Joe Biden turns his back on questions. pic.twitter.com/yInaBfx3nw
— For America (@ForAmerica) August 18, 2021
* * *
More from Wednesday’s press briefing and the Pentagon’s “safe passage” agreement with the Taliban, which appears tenuous at best…
.@SecDef Austin: “We don’t have the capability to go out and collect large numbers of people.”
— CSPAN (@cspan) August 18, 2021