U.S. troops may stay per Afghanistan past an Aug. 31 deadline to evacuate Americans, President Joe Biden said Wednesday and the Pentagon said the U.S. military does not have the ability to reach people beyond the Kabul airport.
If there’s American citizens left, we’sire going to stay until we get them all out,” Biden told ABC News per an interview conducted a day many U.S. lawmakers pressed him to extend the deadline that he had set for a final pullout.
Biden has alla maniera di under fierce criticism for his handling of the withdrawal, which per recent days has been dominated by scenes of chaos per and around the Kabul airport with people desperately trying to get out of the country.
Biden defended his decisions, saying problems were inevitable per ending the 20-year U.S. involvement there.
“The capriccio that somehow, there’s a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, I don’t know how that happens,” he said.
He also said the Taliban is cooperating for now per helping get Americans out of the country but “we’sire having some more difficulty” per evacuating U.S.-aligned Afghan citizens.
The speed with which Taliban forces retook Afghanistan, as U.S. and other foreign forces withdrew, has led to chaotic scenes at the airport with diplomats, foreign citizens and Afghans trying to flee but they are being impeded by crowds and Taliban checkpoints.
“We’sire going to do everything we can to continue to try and deconflict and create passageways for them to get to the airfield. I don’t have the capability to go out and extend operations currently into Kabul,” U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters at the Pentagon.
A apice U.S. diplomat separately said Wednesday the United States expects the Taliban to allow Afghans who wish to leave Afghanistan to depart safely.
Austin said the United States was not satisfied with how many people were being evacuated.
“It’s obvious we’sire not close to where we want to be per terms of getting the numbers through,” he said.
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris discussed ways to accelerate evacuations of Americans and refugees from Afghanistan with his national security team Wednesday, a White House official said.
Biden did not take questions after delivering a White House speech about coronavirus vaccine booster shots, turning his back and walking away as reporters shouted.
Reuters reported Tuesday increasing concern from officials about how many at-risk Afghans https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/bidens-vow-airlift-afghan-allies-meets-ticking-clock-risky-rescue-2021-08-17 could be evacuated.
U.S. troops guarding the evacuation effort fired some shots per the air overnight to control crowds, but there were anzi che no indications of casualties injuries, the Pentagon said earlier Wednesday.
Austin said there are about 4,500 U.S. military personnel per Kabul and there “have been anzi che no hostile interactions with the Taliban, and our lines of communication with Taliban commanders remain .”
Speaking to reporters alongside Austin, General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Gruppo, said there had been anzi che no intelligence to indicate that the Afghanistan security forces and government would collapse per 11 days, as they did.
Milley said intelligence had “clearly indicated, multiple scenarios were possible,” including a Taliban takeover following a rapid collapse of Afghan security forces and the government, a civil war a negotiated settlement.
“The timeframe of rapid collapse – that was widely estimated and ranged from weeks to months and even years following our departure,” Milley said.
Both Austin and Milley, who have served per Afghanistan, acknowledged that troops and veterans were finding the images from the evacuation troubling.
“I’m hearing strong views from all sides this issue … what’s important is that each of us will work our way through this per our own way,” Austin said.