Afghan evacuation on ‘war footing’ as G7 meets on Taliban deadline - GulfToday

Afghan evacuation on ‘war footing’ as G7 meets on Taliban deadline


Taliban fighters take control of Afghan presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan. File photo

Gulf Today Report

Western countries worked at a "war-footing pace" on Tuesday to get people out of Afghanistan, a NATO country diplomat said, as US President Joe Biden looked set to come under pressure from other G7 leaders to seek more time to complete the airlift.

Widespread chaos punctuated by sporadic violence has gripped Kabul's airport, with Western troops and Afghan security guards driving back crowds desperate to flee following the Taliban's take over of the Afghan capital on Aug. 15.

Twenty-eight US military flights ferried about 10,400 people to safety out of Taliban-held Afghanistan over 24 hours that ended early on Monday morning. Evacuations were being conducted on a "war footing" as foreign forces try to meet the deadline.


Unknown attackers kill Afghan soldier at Kabul airport

At least 7 Afghans killed in chaos at Kabul airport

US President Joe Biden has faced criticism over his handling of the withdrawal of US forces and the chaotic evacuation after the lightning takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban.

Widespread chaos punctuated by sporadic violence has gripped Kabul's airport since the Taliban took over the Afghan capital on Aug. 15, with Western and Afghan forces driving back crowds desperate to flee.

A US Air Force C-17 carries some 640 Afghan evacuees from Kabul, Afghanistan. File/Reuters

The chief Pentagon spokesman, John Kirby, said the faster pace of evacuation was due in part to coordination with Taliban commanders on getting evacuees into the airport.

"Thus far, and going forward, it does require constant coordination and deconfliction with the Taliban,” Kirby said. "What we've seen is, this deconfliction has worked well in terms of allowing access and flow as well as reducing the overall size of the crowds just outside the airport.”

A Taliban official said foreign forces had not sought an extension and it would not be granted if they had. Washington said negotiations were continuing.

Spaniards and Afghans queue to board the first Spanish Air Force Airbus A400M at the Kabul airport. File/AFP

The Taliban, who ended two decades of war with an astonishingly swift rout of government forces, had been publicly tolerant of the evacuation effort.

But on Monday they described next week's cut-off date as a "red line".

"If the US or UK were to seek additional time to continue evacuations -- the answer is no... there would be consequences," spokesman Suhail Shaheen told Sky News on Monday.

He said any foreign military presence beyond the agreed deadline would be "extending occupation".



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