NATO Promises Afghan Evacuation Help

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg attends a NATO Foreign Ministers video meeting following developments in Afghanistan at the NATO headquarters in Brussels on August 20, 2021. (Photo by Francisco Seco / POOL / AFP) (Photo by FRANCISCO SECO/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
FRANCISCO SECO/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on Friday promised evacuation assistance in Afghanistan.

“More than 18,000 people have been flown out of Kabul since the Taliban took over Afghanistan’s capital, a NATO official said Friday, pledging to redouble evacuation efforts as criticism of the West’s handling of the crisis intensified,” Reuters reported.

Though many foreign nationals have been saved, thousands of Americans remain stranded behind enemy lines with Taliban checkpoints, blocking passage to the U.S. controlled airport with 6,000 troops within the perimeter. Media reports suggest anywhere from 10,000 to 40,000 Americans are in the country.

Taliban fighters stand guard at a checkpoint near the US embassy that was previously manned by American troops, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021. The Taliban declared an "amnesty" across Afghanistan and urged women to join their government Tuesday, seeking to convince a wary population that they have changed a day after deadly chaos gripped the main airport as desperate crowds tried to flee the country. (AP Photo)

Taliban fighters stand guard at a checkpoint near the US embassy that was previously manned by American troops, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021. The Taliban declared an “amnesty” across Afghanistan and urged women to join their government Tuesday, seeking to convince a wary population that they have changed a day after deadly chaos gripped the main airport as desperate crowds tried to flee the country. (AP Photo)

The Associated Press (AP) reported Friday that President Biden is struggling to evacuate all Americans from the failed state before the August 31 deadline. Extending the deadline would demand “the Taliban’s acquiescence.”

As American citizens remain trapped, Russia has offered to evacuate Afghans, while the French are running operations to rescue foreign nationals in Kabul outside their embassy.

Biden officials have said they do not have the capability to rescue Americans outside Hamid Karzai International Airport.

“I don’t have the capability to go out and extend operations currently into Kabul,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said when questioned about those Americans who cannot reach the airport because they are behind Taliban checkpoints.

The number of Americans stuck in Afghanistan remains unknown.

“I don’t know,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby responded to a reporter who asked how many “American citizens” are stranded in Afghanistan.

Kirby stated Thursday the military has the capacity to remove 5,000 to 9,000 per day but has only evacuated about 2,000 passengers “each of the past two days.” Only 1,762 American citizens and Green Card holders have been evacuated from Afghanistan since August 14.

Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø

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