US navy units a deadline for Biden to determine whether or not to increase the evacuation from Afghanistan
Military advisors have told the White House that the decision must be made by Tuesday in order to have enough time to withdraw the current 5,800 soldiers and their equipment and weapons. If the president agrees, the military is expecting “a few more days” to try to evacuate as many people as possible before US forces withdrawal may begin later this week.
Until Monday, Biden was still considering whether to extend the deadline for the withdrawal of all US troops, CNN has learned. Several advisers to the President have advised against an extension, citing the security situation on site. Officials have spent the past few days monitoring potential terrorist threats citing “persistent” and credible information that the chaotic situation outside the airfield has created a target for ISIS-K and other organizations.
The Pentagon’s final decision for Biden follows the Taliban’s declaration that the US will use all armed forces until the 31st of Afghanistan every day and that the US military will even invade Kabul to rescue people if necessary. While senior U.S. security officials were optimistic that an extension would not be possible beyond Jan.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the military is currently working with an August 31 deadline. “This is the mission assigned to us by the Commander-in-Chief … this is what we are trying to carry out,” Kirby told reporters at a briefing Monday.
Earlier that day, a Taliban spokesman said that if US troops were still in the country after that, “our leadership will make the right and necessary decision.”[s]. “
Biden told reporters on Sunday that “there are discussions in the military about an extension. I hope we don’t have to extend.” He said the decision may depend on how far along we are in evacuating the Americans. The president is also expected to be urged by allies to extend the deadline during a virtual meeting of G7 leaders Tuesday morning.
Biden has been asked what he will say if the G7 leaders – who are expected to urge him to extend – ask the US to stay longer. “We’ll see what we can do,” he told his colleagues.
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan was optimistic that the US can get all Americans out of the country before August 31st. “We believe that in the remaining days we will have the change to get the American citizens who want to leave Kabul out,” Sullivan said during a press conference at the White House on Monday.
As the clock was ticking, the Pentagon announced Monday that U.S. and coalition planes had evacuated approximately 16,000 people from Kabul in the past 24 hours, with the U.S. military transporting nearly 11,000 of them.
US officials have refused to say how many Americans have been evacuated, but 4,293 American citizens have been out since the US flights on Monday at 7:30 am ET, according to a source familiar with a government “SitRep” report Started flying to Afghanistan.
The source said the report shows that 369 Americans had been manifested on that day “since midnight Kabul time,” indicating the 24-hour nature of the effort. The report also notes that 1,000 US citizens were contacted to travel to the airport for processing, “but some may be outside of Afghanistan”.
Sullivan told reporters on Monday that the US cannot be sure how many Americans are in Afghanistan because it is not required to register with the embassy to enter the country or notify the embassy when they leave.
The well-known source said the report said that “since operations began,” 20,156 Afghans have been evacuated along with 642 third-country nationals or people of unknown origin. State Department spokesman Ned Price said Monday that they are not sharing this information publicly because they do not want to divulge crude or outdated information.
As the evacuation progresses, Sullivan said the US is in daily contact with the Taliban through both political and security channels. He warned that regardless of Taliban’s warnings, Biden and Biden alone will decide whether US troops remain in Afghanistan until the end of the month to assist with evacuations.
“As I said, we are in contact with the Taliban and are consulting with the Taliban on every aspect of what is happening in Kabul. … We will continue these conversations with them. Ultimately, it will be the President’s decision how to proceed. “Nobody else,” he said.
“If there is a need”
As the mission to evacuate US citizens, visa applicants and other vulnerable Afghans accelerated dramatically over the weekend, the Pentagon announced on Monday that the US military had entered the city of Kabul to get stranded people out and take them to the airport if necessary bring to.
Kirby stressed that these incidents do not occur “regularly” but “occasionally, when there is a need and it is possible to meet those needs, our commanders on the ground are doing what they think is necessary to help the Americans get to the airport. ”
Aside from a previously reported situation in which four US military Chinook helicopters took 169 people from the roof of the Baron Hotel and transported them to the airport last Thursday, there was “one additional case” in which helicopters were used to evacuate evacuees to Kabul. to bring the airport, said Kirby.
He did not provide details of where or when this incident occurred, but said no additional troops will be deployed before August 31 to assist with these types of extraction missions.
Last week, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said US troops stationed at the airport would not be able to go into town to pick up “large groups” of people who had to go to the airport.
Regarding the August 31 deadline, Sullivan told reporters on Monday, “The question is, are we on track to meet our goals in this operation? Risk and we believe we are. “
But Afghans employed by the embassy have told CNN that their attempts to get to the airport and leave the country have been brutally drained and unsuccessful, or they have managed to get to the airport but have been bloody and spiritual desperate to get there.
When asked about their accounts and attempts to reach evacuation flights, State Department spokesman Price said that locally employed personnel “is an absolute priority”.
“They are absolutely part of our plans. And this commitment to them, for their safety, is in no way diminished, ”he said at a press conference on Monday. Price said they were able to relocate members of the local staff, but didn’t provide any specific numbers.
Price alleged that locally employed US embassy personnel in Kabul were not evacuated to the airport with American personnel “just because they were largely absent from embassy premises that day.”
“When the embassy was evacuated and our staff made their way from the embassy in Kabul to the safe facility on the airport premises, many, if not all of our locally committed staff were not present on the embassy premises at the time, given the volatile security situation from the Work remotely; many were at home, not at work, “he said.
CNN reported last week that the embassy on Wednesday notified thousands of local workers that they could go to the airport for an evacuation flight, but some of the Afghans who made it to the airport were bloody and desperate because they lost had most of their belongings en route, according to several sources familiar with the matter.
Others decided they didn’t even want to continue the dangerous journey, even though they were desperate to leave the country. Still others who took the risk had to turn back after unsustainable situations.
“I’ve decided that the Taliban would rather shoot me in the head than get stuck in this situation,” an Afghan who worked for years in the embassy told CNN.
This story has been updated with additional reports.
CNN’s Ellie Kaufman and Kaitlan Collins contributed to this report.