15k Americans trying to flee Afghanistan
As many as 15,000 American citizens may remain inside Afghanistan, struggling to get out, days after the Asian nation fell to control of Taliban terrorists, US President Joe Biden said Wednesday.
Also looking to flee are tens of thousands of Afghan citizens who fought alongside or aided US troops over the past two decades – and now fear retribution from the terrorist organisation now wielding power in the country, the Associated Press reported.
Mr Biden said the US was committed to getting every American out of Afghanistan – even if that meant some US troops would remain in the country beyond his August 31 deadline for their withdrawal after a two-decade-long military operation.
But “Americans should understand that we’re gonna try to get it done before August 31st”, Mr Biden insisted during an interview with ABC News.
Earlier this week, a Biden assertion that some Afghans were “still hopeful for their country”, and didn’t want to leave, was widely criticised.
The US State Department confirmed a backlog of tens of thousands of visa applications from Afghans who have been trying for years to leave the country ahead of the August 31 US pullout deadline.
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Meanwhile on Wednesday, US Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, denied reports that US intelligence personnel had warned that the situation in Afghanistan could deteriorate rapidly – just as it did last Sunday as Taliban fighters moved in on Kabul, the capital.
“There was nothing that I, or anybody else, saw that indicated a collapse of this army and this government in 11 days,” Milley told reporters at a news briefing in Washington, referring to Afghan forces aided by the US and the country’s leadership prior to the Taliban takeover.
Milley said about 4500 US troops were currently on the ground securing the airport and made clear that any US citizen wanting to leave Afghanistan will have an opportunity to do so – as would any Afghan allies that have helped with the 20-year US effort in the country.
Milley said some 5000 people had already been evacuated, adding the US military will have the capability of increasing the pace of evacuations when the State Department “makes evacuees available”.
Fox News’ Michael Lee and The Associated Press contributed to this story
This article originally appeared on Fox News and was reproduced with permission