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US Accelerates Evacuation of Americans and Afghans from Kabul

The United States has accelerated the evacuation of Americans and Afghans from Kabul as the Taliban, who took over the country, warned they consider President Joe Biden’s August 31 deadline for keeping U.S. troops in Afghanistan a “red line” that must be met.Biden said Sunday that more time may be needed past the end of August to fly those who want to leave war-torn Afghanistan to safety in other countries, chiefly Americans and the Afghans who supported them during two decades of fighting against the Taliban.  British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to ask Biden at a Tuesday meeting of the Group of Seven democratic world powers to extend the August 31 deadline for removal of allied forces.But Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told Sky News in an interview, “If they extend it, that means they are extending occupation. … It will create mistrust between us. If they are intent on continuing the occupation, it will provoke a reaction.”Sorry, but your browser cannot support embedded video of this type, you can
download this video to view it offline.Download File360p | 7 MB480p | 11 MB540p | 14 MB720p | 25 MB1080p | 55 MBOriginal | 177 MB Embed” />Copy Download AudioBiden Admin Faces Criticism Amid Looming Humanitarian Crisis in AfghanistanBiden said, “Our hope is we will not have to extend,” but that it might be needed to evacuate more people.The pace of the evacuations has quickened. A White House official said U.S. military planes airlifted about 10,400 people out of Kabul in a 24-hour period ending early Monday, the most in any single-day period so far, and coalition aircraft from other countries evacuated another 5,900.But thousands more people wanting to flee Afghanistan remain encamped at the Kabul airport awaiting flights.In all, White House officials said about 37,000 people have been flown out of Afghanistan since the Taliban militants took control of the country after its U.S.-backed government collapsed more than a week ago and President Ashraf Ghani fled to exile in the United Arab Emirates.Biden said no Afghans are being flown directly to the United States without prior security screening at stopovers at U.S. outposts in the Mideast and Europe.The U.S. leader has adamantly defended his stance to remove all the country’s troops to end the longest U.S. war after nearly two decades. But the evacuation by all accounts has been chaotic, with Biden’s fellow Democrats and opposition Republicans alike attacking him and his administration for mishandling it. A CBS poll released Sunday showed that most Americans said the removal of U.S. troops has gone “very badly” or “somewhat badly.” While 63% of Americans say they approve of removing U.S. troops from Afghanistan, only 47% say they approve of Biden’s handling of the removal.”The evacuation of thousands of people from Kabul is going to be hard and painful, no matter when it started, when we began,” Biden said. “It would have been true if we’d started a month ago, or a month from now. There is no way to evacuate this many people without pain and loss of heartbreaking images you see on television.”But he promised the faster pace of evacuations will continue, saying, “We see no reason why this tempo will not be kept up.” Without giving a full explanation, he said U.S. forces have improved access to the Kabul airport for Americans and others seeking to get on flights.”What I’m not going to do is talk about the tactical changes we’re making to make sure we maintain as much security as we can,” he said. “We have constantly — how can I say it — increased rational access to the airport, where more folk can get there more safely. It’s still a dangerous operation, but I don’t want to go into the details of how we’re doing that.””We’ve discussed a lot with the Taliban,” Biden said. “They’ve been cooperative in extending some of the perimeter. Any American who wants to get home, will get home,” he declared.On Sunday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered six U.S. commercial airlines to provide 18 passenger jets to help move evacuees from temporary sites outside of Afghanistan to further destinations to let military aircraft focus on the initial evacuations from Kabul.VOA’s Steve Herman contributed to this report.

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