Multiple reports surfacing on Friday claim Taliban forces are reportedly assaulting Western citizens, including Americans, as they attempt to reach the Kabul airport for evacuation, in addition to violently preventing Afghans with appropriate travel papers from escaping.
A source tells me, “Situation [in Afghanistan] is rapidly deteriorating… We’ve had Americans get beaten throughout the night.” One of them, an American woman, was beaten “twice” even though she was carrying a U.S. passport.
— Sasha Ingber (@SashaIngber) August 20, 2021
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin confirmed reports of beatings of U.S. citizens at the Taliban’s hand on Friday, calling it “unacceptable.”
The UK Guardian reported on Thursday that Australian citizens were “beaten, hit with weapons and whipped by Taliban militants when they presented their documents and insisted there were flights waiting for them.”
Taliban forces reportedly repeatedly rejected one man’s Australian passport, insisting it was “fake” or invalid. The Associated Press suggested “many of the Taliban fighters could not read the documents” they were rejecting.
Taliban fighters used guns, chains, and whips to keep Afghans from reaching the airport, according to footage surfacing from the scene:
Women, children, the elderly, disabled with thousands of bags outside the airport. Taliban footsoldier and his wip. Brave Afghan woman filming pic.twitter.com/ESNfWGselr
— Yalda Hakim (@BBCYaldaHakim) August 18, 2021
India’s Times Now news channel interviewed people trapped in Kabul who said they were beaten with sticks, shot with pellet guns, and tear-gassed when they approached the airport.
— TIMES NOW (@TimesNow) August 20, 2021
An Afghan man featured in the Times Now segment claimed German and American soldiers pushed and kicked him away from the airport security perimeter. He said the Germans “beat me up with sticks” and then fired tear gas into the crowd while he was holding his one-year-old child. He also claimed the American and German soldiers “beat up people with baseball bats.”
A distressed Afghan man said that tear gas was launched at him and his one-year-old by American and German soldiers who were trying to evacuate their citizens from the country at Kabul Airport. pic.twitter.com/vMiCJTEYQX
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) August 20, 2021
A senior Western official confirmed to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) that tear gas was fired into the air to disperse crowds around the airport on Thursday and Friday. The official was not certain if the gas was deployed by American, British, German, or other Western forces guarding the airport. The Pentagon declined to comment on the report.
“We have seen reports that the Taliban, contrary to their public statements and their commitments to our government, are blocking Afghans who wish to leave the country from reaching the airport,” Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said on Wednesday.
“It appears the Taliban’s commitment for safe passage for Americans has been solid,” she said while admitting the Biden administration does not know the details of “every case.”
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said on Thursday he was not aware of any “reporting” which “indicated that American citizens specifically were being stopped or harassed.”
“That said, we obviously don’t have perfect visibility into what is going on outside the airport. So I can’t say definitively that they aren’t stopping and/or harassing people with U.S. passports or visas,” he added.
“In our communications with the Taliban, they have indicated that people with the proper credentials will be allowed through,” he said.
Both the Pentagon and State Department admitted on Thursday they do not know how many Americans are trapped in Afghanistan.
President Joe Biden said at a press conference on Friday that his White House has seen “no indication” of Americans being prevented from reaching the Kabul airport.
“We’ve made an agreement with the Taliban. Thus far they‘ve allowed them to go through,” Biden insisted.