According to the Pentagon, coordination with the Taliban has allowed U.S. forces to widen their perimeter around the Kabul Airport to provide more security for those trying to evacuate.
This comes as President Biden says he’s committed to keeping U.S. forces in Afghanistan until all Americans are out.
“There is discussions going on among us and the military about extending,” said Biden. “Our hope is we will not have to extend, but there are going to be discussions I suspect on how far along we are in the process.”
A Taliban spokesman says it would be a mistake for U.S. forces to remain beyond the agreed-upon deadline.
“President Biden announced this agreement that until 31st of August, they would withdraw all their military forces. So if they extended, that means they are extending occupation. If they are intent on continuing the occupation, so it will provoke a reaction,” says Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen.
The Pentagon maintains that the focus is still to be out by the end of the month.
“The goal is to get as many people out as fast as possible,” remarked Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby.
The U.S. has evacuated and facilitated the evacuation of approximately 37,000 people since August 14th with nearly 11,000 people getting out Sunday.
Biden bolstered resources by activating the Civil Reserve Air Fleet over the weekend. The little-used program, created after World War II, increases our airlift capacity by enlisting commercial airlines for help.
“These civil reserve flights will be helping facilitate the safe movement of people from staging locations and transit centers like Qatar or Germany to the United States or to a third country, said Biden. “None of them will be landing in Kabul.”
The situation in Kabul remains dangerous with Biden warning of possible attacks on the U.S. operation.
“Every day we have troops on the ground,” the president said. “These troops and innocent civilians at the airport face the risk of attack from ISIS from a distance, even though we’re moving back the perimeter significantly.”
As a defense, aircraft are releasing flares to distract any heat-seeking missiles that may target planes carrying evacuees.
National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan says the U.S. is consulting with the Taliban on every aspect of what’s happening in Kabul right now and that they’ve developed a way to get Americans who want to leave Afghanistan out safely.
As far as our Afghan allies, he says the U.S. will continue to work to get them out of the country even after the U.S. has left.