US president pledges to ensure Americans, Afghans who aided US are able to leave war-torn country.
WASHINGTON (AA) – US President Joe Biden said on Friday that he is considering authorizing rescue operations beyond Kabul’s international airport for Americans, and Afghans who aided the US.
Biden said existing operations are already “one of the largest, most difficult airlifts in history,” but pledged to do everything possible to facilitate evacuations.
“We’re considering every opportunity and every means by which we could get folks to the airport,” the president told reporters at the White House when asked about those stuck behind Taliban checkpoints. He further pledged to ensure that Americans in the war-torn country are able to leave, telling those who want to be evacuated: “We will get you home.”
Biden made the same commitment for Afghans seeking special immigrant visas to come to the US, saying that while “there’s no one more important” than US nationals during the evacuation process, “they’re equally important almost.”
“We’re going to do everything we can to provide safe evacuation for our Afghan allies, partners, and Afghans who might be targeted because of their association with the United States,” he said. “Make no mistake, this evacuation mission is dangerous.”
“I cannot promise what the final outcome will be, or that it will be without risk of loss, but as commander-in-chief, I can assure you that I will mobilize every resource necessary,” he added.
The president is facing criticism from Republicans and his fellow Democrats for chaotic scenes at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport after the Taliban seized the Afghan capital on Sunday.
So far, over 13,000 people have been evacuated since the US took control of the airport on Aug. 14 as the Taliban swept through Afghanistan in a blitz offensive that caught many, including Biden and his senior officials, by surprise. That figure includes 5,700 people who were evacuated by the military in the last 24 hours alone.
“Thousands more,” Biden said, “have been evacuated on private charter flights facilitated by the US government.”
The US has deployed nearly 6,000 troops to the airport to secure the facility, and run air traffic control for military and civilian flights.
US officials remain in “constant contact with Taliban leadership on the ground in Kabul” in order to ensure the safety of ongoing operations, and the group has so far upheld its commitment to ensuring Americans are granted safe passage to the airport, Biden said.