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Pentagon: Evacuations past August 31 would require approval from Taliban

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby

The US military has conceded that continuing evacuations out of Kabul after August 31 would need tacit approval from the Taliban.

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said on Thursday that the US “would require additional conversations” with the Taliban to ensure the safety of Americans and Afghan allies fleeing the country.

US President Joe Biden said on Wednesday he would maintain the American military presence in the country beyond the end of the month if evacuation operations were not yet completed.

He said, if needed, US forces would be staying in Afghanistan beyond his August 31 deadline for a full withdrawal to pull out all American citizens.

However, Kirby said on Thursday there “has been no decision to change the deadline” and indicated that there may be a new agreement between American officials and commanders of the Taliban.

Until then, “we are focused on doing everything we can inside that deadline to move as many people out as possible,” Kirby said at a news briefing.

“I think it is just a fundamental fact of the reality of where we are that communications and a certain measure of agreement with the Taliban on what we’re trying to accomplish has to continue to occur,” Kirby said. “And again, I’m not going to speculate past Aug. 31.”

US American military officials said that during the past 24-hours 12 US C-17 transport planes departed the airport in Kabul carrying more than 2,000 passengers, including nearly 300 Americans.

The Pentagon has evacuated about 7,000 people since Saturday, and has deployed more than 5,200 troops to the Kabul airport. Biden has ordered the deployment of up to 7,000 American troops to Kabul in total.

Biden had repeatedly vowed the withdrawal from Afghanistan would be orderly, deliberate and safe and that there were no circumstances that Afghanistan would suddenly fall to the Taliban, after 20 years of war and occupation.

But the Taliban, who started to make gains since the withdrawal process began in May, eventually took over the capital Kabul on Sunday.

The militants entered the presidential palace after President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, declaring that the war in Afghanistan was over.

Biden, who acknowledged that he was stunned by the swift collapse of Kabul, said, "I don't think it was a failure.”

“The idea that somehow there's a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, I don't know how that happens,” he added.


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