European countries to end evacuations in Afghanistan

Attribution: Haroon Sabawoon-Anadolu Agency

Further terrorist attacks could occur ahead of Tuesday’s planned deadline for withdrawal, warns US Central Command.

PARIS (AA) – Due to the deteriorating security situation following the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan nearly two weeks ago, France has joined the list of European countries deciding to end evacuation flights out of the country, according to French media outlets.

Compounding the already-escalating international crisis, two suicide bombers detonated bombs outside Kabul airport on Thursday, killing 13 US troops and nearly 100 Afghans, and wounding approximately 110 others.

ISIS-K has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

According to the head of US Central Command, Gen. Frank McKenzie, further terrorist attacks could occur ahead of Tuesday’s planned deadline for withdrawal.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced that France would end evacuations of its citizens by Friday evening. The government, along with fellow European nations, has continued to evacuate nationals and Afghan citizens who desire to leave in light of the Taliban takeover on Aug. 15 and the withdrawal of American and NATO forces.

“From tomorrow evening, we will no longer be able to carry out the evacuations,” said Castex on RTL Radio Thursday evening.

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel said while evacuations with military planes have ended, they will continue efforts for local Afghan staff, their family members, and others at risk who haven’t been able to leave.

“The Foreign Ministry, and our envoy [Markus] Potzel, is holding talks with the Taliban [in Qatar],” said Merkel. “We’ll coordinate our next steps with our international partners,” she added at a Thursday evening news conference in Berlin.

Potzel’s discussions are an attempt to convince the Taliban to allow civilian airlifts over the coming weeks.

Chaos as withdrawal deadline nears

The world has stood by while a situation of nearly unforeseen circumstances has rapidly unfolded in Afghanistan. Two decades of civil war ended suddenly and tragically, with the former Afghan government collapsing in 11 days under the weight of a continuous Taliban onslaught and former President Ashraf Ghani fleeing the country along with fellow government officials.

The crisis has its roots in a peace deal negotiated by the Trump administration with the Taliban in February 2020 setting an Aug. 31 deadline for withdrawal of all forces.

US President Joe Biden has vowed to press forward with the withdrawal of American citizens and those Afghans who wish to leave.

According to German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Germany had announced on Thursday evening the ending of all evacuation flights with remaining German soldiers, police officers, and diplomats departing on military aircraft. Nearly 5,300 people had already been withdrawn but thousands of Afghans who worked for the German military and other institutions are still trying to leave.

In a Friday morning statement to Sky News, UK Secretary of Defence Ben Wallace said that the efforts to withdraw UK citizens at Kabul airport have only “a matter of hours” left. The main processing center at the Baron Hotel near the airport had been set up but closed in the very early hours of Friday morning.

The UK has withdrawn over 12,000 people from Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover. Approximately 100 out of the 1,000 British forces have left Kabul as well, according to Sky News.

Late Wednesday, the US, Australia, and the UK all came forth with reporting of the very high risk of a possible terrorist attack in Kabul, urging citizens to move from the area and await further instructions.

France’s Castex went on to say that France’s efforts to extract its citizens have not ended here.

“There will be a second phase that we will manage with the other European countries and the international community, in particular the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees),” Castex added.

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