Pentagon could ask Biden to remain in Afghanistan previous Aug 31, however will not retake Bagram to hurry evacuations
The Pentagon mentioned in a Monday briefing that it’s going to think about leaving American troops in Afghanistan previous August 31, in session with President Biden and allies, however dismissed the thought of the U.S. navy taking again Bagram Airfield to hurry up evacuations.
The feedback from Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby got here because the disaster in Afghanistan continues one week after the Taliban toppled the nation’s U.S.-backed authorities.
The U.S. navy, in accordance with the Pentagon, has sped up evacuations from the Kabul airport, eradicating almost 11,000 folks prior to now 24 hours — though the Pentagon will not say what number of Individuals it is evacuated. The navy has additionally used helicopters a number of instances to assist Individuals stranded in Kabul get into the airport, Kirby mentioned.
However Kabul stays extremely harmful with the gates to the airport closing and opening with out discover, the Taliban beating Individuals attempting to make their approach to the airport, and a minimum of one Afghan soldier dying in a gunfight exterior the airport. Kirby mentioned Monday that the navy will proceed evacuating as many Individuals, U.S. allies and susceptible Afghans so long as potential — and doubtlessly previous the top of the month which Biden beforehand set as a deadline.
“The objective is to get as many individuals out as quick as potential,” Kirby mentioned. “The main focus is on attempting to do that as finest we will by the top of the month. And because the secretary mentioned, if he must have extra conversations with the commander in chief about that timeline he’ll try this — however we’re simply not at that time proper now.”
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Kirby additionally mentioned the U.S. is conscious of public statements from the Taliban saying that it views Aug. 31 as a tough deadline for Individuals to depart, and of statements from some NATO allies who could need to keep longer.
A senior State Division official Monday additionally mentioned that “our dedication to at-risk Afghans would not finish on Aug. 31” and that there’s an expectation of people that need to have an opportunity to exit Afghanistan after the U.S. navy leaves. It’s not clear how that chance could be out there if the Taliban good points management of the Kabul airport, nonetheless.
Some have criticized the navy for abandoning the large and safe Bagram air base just some weeks in the past and advised that the U.S. retake the bottom as a further staging space for evacuations. However Kirby dismissed the thought out Monday.
“The throughput has improved and elevated,” Kirby mentioned of the operation on the Kabul airport. “I do not suppose it could be a helpful expenditure of our time to Monday morning quarterback the entire challenge with Bagram. It was closed down as a part of the retrograde.”
Pushed on whether or not retaking Bagram and utilizing it to assist get extra Individuals and allies out of Afghanistan, Kirby continued to say that doing so could be too dangerous.
“What you are speaking about could be an expenditure of sources and personnel, in addition to a rise most definitely to the menace that they are underneath — to strive to return and as you set it retake Bagram air base which is the scale of a small metropolis,” Kirby mentioned.
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The Pentagon spokesman additionally mentioned Monday that previously three weeks Pentagon leaders engaged in a “tabletop train” to simulate evacuating folks from the Kabul airport “and we’re really working that play now.”
Kirby dodged questions on precisely what number of Individuals have been evacuated from Afghanistan up to now. He was requested by a reporter why he was solely saying that “1000’s” of Individuals have been evacuated from the nation whilst he supplied very particular numbers on different subjects, together with 11,000 folks faraway from Afghanistan by the U.S. navy prior to now 24 hours.
“I am simply going to depart it at a number of thousand,” Kirby mentioned.
He denied to elaborate when the reporter requested him whether or not the vagueness was as a result of the navy doesn’t know what number of Individuals have been evacuated, or if there’s another motive for that.
Fox Information’ Jennifer Griffin and Nick Kalman contributed to this report.
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