Biden touts ‘progress’ of Afghanistan airlift and guarantees People: ‘We are going to get you residence’

2021-08-21 00:04:03

President Biden claimed U.S. forces in Afghanistan had been making “important progress” in evacuating U.S. residents and susceptible Afghans and pledged to do every part he may to make sure their protected evacuation because the Taliban asserts management over the nation.

“Let me be clear: Any American who needs to be residence, we are going to get you residence,” Biden mentioned.

Requested whether or not his promise prolonged to Afghan nationals, Biden mentioned that it did.

His feedback opened the door to a probably bigger operation that may preserve U.S. forces in Kabul past the president’s Aug. 31 deadline for the ultimate drawdown of troops. About 6,000 U.S. troops have been deployed to Kabul’s worldwide airport to help within the evacuation effort, most of them arriving after the Taliban captured the town on Sunday.

Acknowledging the hazard of what he referred to as the “most tough airlift in historical past,” Biden thanked the “courageous” troopers and Marines carrying it out. He additionally disclosed that U.S. forces went “over the wall” surrounding the airport to rescue 169 People who had been struggling to get via Taliban checkpoints, elevating the chance that extra such missions could also be obligatory.

Biden warned the Taliban that violence directed at American forces or interference with People making an attempt to achieve the airport would lead to a “swift and forceful” response. The president mentioned that Taliban guards outdoors the airport had been “letting in individuals with American passports,” however acknowledged that Afghan nationals, many afraid of retribution for having aided the U.S. battle effort, had been going through issue getting via checkpoints.

“I can’t promise what the ultimate final result will probably be,” Biden mentioned. “As commander in chief, I can guarantee you that I’ll mobilize each useful resource obligatory.”

Following Biden’s remarks from the White Home, administration officers painted a extra dire image.

Protection Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III, in a briefing name with lawmakers, mentioned that Afghans and even some People had been assaulted by the Taliban outdoors the Kabul airport, in keeping with a kind of on the decision.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby confirmed that People and Afghans had been attacked, telling reporters the U.S. had warned the Taliban that such violence and harassment is “unacceptable” and that folks have to be granted free passage via the checkpoints.

“By and enormous, that’s taking place,” Kirby mentioned.

Biden mentioned that 13,000 individuals had been flown out of Afghanistan since Saturday and that the U.S. authorities had assisted within the evacuation of 1000’s extra on personal constitution flights. He mentioned 5,700 individuals had been airlifted out on Thursday.

Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, the highest Republican on the Home International Affairs Committee, mentioned Biden’s feedback had been “fully divorced from actuality” and urged him to do extra to rescue endangered people who find themselves caught outdoors the airport.

“We nonetheless haven’t any technique as to how we will get People to the airport who’re trapped behind examine factors in Kabul or outdoors of Kabul,” McCaul mentioned in an announcement.

Biden’s speech from the White Home was an effort to bookend a tumultuous week with a second deal with on Afghanistan, focusing People’ consideration on the effectiveness of the last-minute airlift operation. It got here 5 days after Biden took a defiant stance within the face of bipartisan criticism over the chaos of the continued U.S. withdrawal as soon as the Taliban toppled the nation’s former authorities.

The president’s message of progress was upended by an eight-hour shutdown of the Kabul airport on Friday after Qatar, a prime vacation spot for rescue flights in current days, knowledgeable Washington that it might not settle for extra planeloads of Afghan evacuees. As officers raced to deal with the snarl, Biden delayed his remarks by an hour, giving aides time to revise his message.

With Vice President Kamala Harris, Austin and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken standing behind him, Biden mentioned that flights had resumed.

Though he continued to concentrate on his overarching rationale for ending the 20-year battle in Afghanistan, Biden was much less prickly in responding to questions from reporters than he was Wednesday in an interview with ABC Information’ George Stephanopoulos.

Requested about studies of an unheeded warning in a State Division “dissent channel” final month urging the administration to ramp up its evacuations, the president mentioned he had acquired “all types of cables … all types of recommendation.”

In drawing down forces, Biden mentioned, he went with the “consensus opinion” — that the Taliban wouldn’t overrun the Afghan army so shortly — and reiterated his phrases from Monday: “I made the choice. The buck stops with me.”

However he struggled to deal with the bigger query of why the federal government appeared ill-prepared for the swift Taliban takeover, or whether or not the debacle gave him pause concerning the accuracy of U.S. assessments of terrorism dangers rising from Afghanistan. Biden rejected the concept that the chaotic withdrawal had harm America’s credibility with its longtime allies, however that assertion belied public criticism from a number of international ministers, who mentioned the U.S. had not consulted with them previous to the president’s April drawdown announcement and the last-minute evacuation effort.

Biden additionally expressed extra empathy for the Afghans whose desperation has been clear in pictures of them clinging to the wheels of a departing C-17 army plane and going through gunfire close to the airport.

“The final week has been heartbreaking,” Biden mentioned, referencing movies displaying Afghans appearing “out of sheer desperation.”

“I don’t assume any certainly one of us can see these footage,” he mentioned, “and never really feel that ache on a human degree.”

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