Defense Sec Austin: People Have Had ‘Tough Encounters’ With Taliban Trying to Get to Airport

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that there have been incidents of people in Kabul “having some tough encounters” with the Taliban.

On Friday, referring to Americans in Afghanistan, President Joe Biden said, “We have no indication that they haven’t been able to get in Kabul through the airport.”

Anchor Martha Raddatz said, “Why aren’t American troops able to go out into Kabul and help those Americans, help those Afghans who helped Americans get to the airport?”

Austin said, “We have been out. You saw evidence of an operation the other day where we flew a couple of helicopters over. It was a very short distance. It helped 169 American citizens get into the gate without issues.”

Raddatz asked, “You’ve got tens of thousands of people out there desperate to get to the airport, surrounded by the Taliban, so why can’t the U.S. send convoys out there?”

Austin said, “If you have an American passport, and if you have the right credentials, the Taliban has been allowing people to pass safely through.”

Raddatz said, “Not in all cases.”

Austin said, “There’s no such thing as an absolute in this kind of environment, as you would imagine, Martha. There have been incidents of people having some tough encounters with Taliban. As we learn about those incidents, we certainly go back and engage the Taliban leadership and press home to them that our expectation is that they allow our people with the appropriate credentials to get through the checkpoints.”

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN

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