US says Taliban gave safe passage assurances for Kabul airport

by Sami Burgaz
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan says US raising issues with Taliban of people being turned away, beaten.

WASHINGTON (AA) – The Taliban has assured the US that it will not impede safe travel of Afghans and Americans seeking to flee to Hamid Karzai International Airport, a top Biden administration official said Tuesday.

Jake Sullivan, US President Joe Biden’s national security advisor, said the Taliban informed the administration “that they are prepared to provide the safe passage of civilians to the airport, and we intend to hold them to that commitment.”

Sullivan noted reports of individuals being turned away and beaten at Taliban checkpoints, saying the administration is raising those cases directly with them “to try and resolve those issues, and we are concerned about whether that will continue to unfold in the coming days.”

But he said “by and large” people have been able to reach the airport.

“What we are finding is that we are getting people through the gate, we are getting them lined up, and we are getting them on planes,” he added.

Biden warned the Taliban that “devastating” force will be used if the hardline group attacks American personnel, or seeks to interfere with ongoing evacuation operations.

The US military resumed flights into and out of the airport late Monday after chaotic scenes showed people desperate to flee the group swarming the tarmac as military planes took off with several people appearing in bystander video footage to fall from at least one aircraft mid-take off.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby confirmed earlier on Tuesday that US military commanders on-site at the airport are in communication directly with Taliban commanders “on the ground outside the airport.”

Asked whether the US would recognize an Afghan government headed by the Taliban, Sullivan said answering the question right now would be “premature” as a government has yet to be formed.

“Right now there is a chaotic situation in Kabul where we don’t even have the establishment of a governing authority,” he said.

“Ultimately it is up to the Taliban to show the rest of the world who they are, and how they intend to proceed. The track record has not been good, but it’s premature to address that question at this point.”

The war between the Taliban and Afghan forces intensified as foreign troops announced their withdrawal from the country by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that led to the US invasion.

The Taliban made rapid military advances in recent weeks and took control of the capital on Sunday as Afghan government forces fled or surrendered. Former President Ashraf Ghani also left the country.


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