On Aug. 21, the US embassy in Kabul issued a security alert to American citizens trapped in Afghanistan warning against traveling to the Kabul airport due to increasing threats by the Taliban regime.
“We are advising U.S. citizens to avoid traveling to the airport and to avoid airport gates at this time unless you receive individual instructions from a U.S. government representative to do so,” the advisory issued by the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan stated.
The advisory also mentioned that U.S. citizens in Afghanistan who are yet to fill out a Repatriation Assistance Request form must get it filled at the earliest. It urged Americans to avoid calling the embassy to seek updates or information regarding flight options.
A spokesperson for the Taliban stated they would not be extending the Aug. 31 deadline for foreign forces to complete their current evacuation missions. He warned that there would be “consequences” if foreign forces extended their presence in Afghanistan beyond the deadline.
The UK government plans to pressure President Joe Biden to delay withdrawing U.S. forces. France has also reportedly urged for America’s military presence to be extended.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon admitted that it currently is not in a position to safely escort Americans in Kabul to the airport for evacuation. “I don’t have the capability to go out and extend operations currently into Kabul… And where do you take that? How far can you extend into Kabul and how long does it take to flow those forces in to be able to do that,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters.
According to U.S. Army General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Kabul airport is currently secured with around 5,000 U.S. troops on ground. He assured that the Taliban would not interfere with the evacuation operations. Milley however added that the situation “is still volatile and can change quickly.”
The general stated that the Pentagon was, at present, deploying an average of around 20 sorties of cargo aircraft evacuation flights every 24 hours. Replying to a reporter’s query about the extraction of people behind Taliban lines using military troops, Milley said that the military has the “capability to do other things if necessary” but noted that the implementation of this option would be a “policy decision.”