Videos uploaded from Kabul on Sunday showed chaos at the international airport as panicked people rushed to board aircraft ahead of the Taliban’s advance.
Gunfire was audible in the distance as refugees packed into transport aircraft. Operations at the airport were reportedly suspended for a time due to shooting nearby.
Another Saigon moment: chaotic scenes at Kabul International Airport. No security. None. pic.twitter.com/6BuXqBTHWk
— Saad Mohseni (@saadmohseni) August 15, 2021
Scenes from #Kabul Airport, #Afghanistan showing people boarding what appears to a C17 (please correct me if wrong) and what appears to be gunfire in the air in the distance. pic.twitter.com/p3l7zrVu77
— Aurora Intel (@AuroraIntel) August 15, 2021
— Stefanie Glinski (@stephglinski) August 15, 2021
Absolute chaos at the Kabul Airport.#Afghanistan
— FJ (@Natsecjeff) August 15, 2021
Shots were fired by U.S. troops to control the panicked crowd as the situation deteriorated:
— Wajahat Kazmi (@KazmiWajahat) August 15, 2021
U.S. officials confirmed on Sunday afternoon that only military aircraft are flying out of the airport. All commercial air traffic has been suspended. The Pentagon said at least 500 U.S. Embassy personnel were evacuated on Sunday but many more remain; the military hopes to ramp up to 5,000 evacuations per day within a few days.
The U.S. State Department said on Sunday evening that Ambassador Ross Wilson is at the Kabul airport, having been evacuated from the American embassy, but he had not yet left the country as of 6 p.m. Eastern time.
“This is manifestly not Saigon. We went into Afghanistan 20 years ago with one mission in mind, and that was to deal with the people who attacked us on 9/11, and that mission has been successful,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken bizarrely insisted on Sunday as these events were unfolding, even though the resemblance to the hurried American departure from Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War is unmistakable, right down to helicopters descending upon the Kabul embassy to evacuate staffers.
— Liz Sly (@LizSly) August 15, 2021
“The Taliban is not the South — the North Vietnamese army. They’re not — they’re not remotely comparable in terms of capability,” President Joe Biden said from the White House on July 8.
“There’s going to be no circumstance where you see people being lifted off the roof of an embassy in the — of the United States from Afghanistan. It is not at all comparable,” Biden promised.