The Associated Press revealed Thursday “up to 15,000 Americans remain in Afghanistan” after the country’s collapse Sunday.
Previous reports indicated between 10 and 40 thousand American citizens were stranded in Afghanistan, but the administration claims the number is about 11 thousand. As of Sunday, only about 2,900 have been evacuated.
“The U.S. military does not have the forces and firepower in Afghanistan to expand its current mission from securing the Kabul airport to collecting Americans and at-risk Afghans elsewhere in the capital and escorting them for evacuation,” the Associated Press reported. “The question of whether those seeking to leave the country before Biden’s deadline should be rescued and brought to the airport has arisen amid reports that Taliban checkpoints have stopped some designated evacuees.”
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Wednesday that he does not “have the capability to go out and extend operations currently into Kabul.”
The Associated Press also reported the Taliban have erected “checkpoints and curfews that have limited the number of Americans and Afghans able to enter the airport.”
The State Department has asked Americans to travel to the airport to be extracted, though the U.S. military cannot guarantee Americans will be safe doing so.
On Wednesday the U.S. embassy in Kabul announced a “first come, first serve basis” for flights out of the country at the airport surrounded by the Taliban.
“Please be advised that a significant number of individuals have registered and space on these flights is available on a first come, first serve basis,” the notice reads. “You may be required to wait at the airport for a significant amount of time until space is available.”
Austin stated Wednesday nearly 4,500 American troops are protecting the airport, while the State Department evacuates those trapped amid the chaos and increased brutalization by the Taliban within the country.
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