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US has capability to evacuate remaining Individuals

WASHINGTON (AP) — America has the capability to evacuate the roughly 300 U.S. residents remaining in Afghanistan who need to go away earlier than President Joe Biden’s Tuesday deadline, senior Biden administration officers mentioned Sunday, as one other U.S. drone strike in opposition to suspected Islamic State militants underscored the grave risk within the battle’s closing days.

“That is probably the most harmful time in an already terribly harmful mission these final couple of days,” America’s high diplomat, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, mentioned not lengthy earlier than affirmation of that airstrike in Kabul, the capital.

The evacuation movement of Individuals saved tempo whilst a brand new State Division safety alert, issued hours earlier than the army motion, instructed individuals to go away the airport space instantly “as a result of a particular, credible risk.”

Biden’s nationwide safety adviser, Jake Sullivan, mentioned that for these U.S. residents looking for instantly to go away Afghanistan by the looming deadline, “we have now the capability to have 300 Individuals, which is roughly the quantity we expect are remaining, come to the airport and get on planes within the time that’s remaining. We moved out greater than that quantity simply yesterday. So from our standpoint, there is a chance proper now for Americans to return, to be admitted to the airport and to be evacuated safely and successfully.”

Sullivan mentioned the U.S. doesn’t at present plan to have an ongoing embassy presence after the ultimate U.S. troop withdrawal. However he pledged the U.S. “will be sure there may be secure passage for any American citizen, any authorized everlasting resident” after Tuesday, in addition to for “these Afghans who helped us.” However untold numbers of weak Afghans, frightened of a return to the brutality of pre-2001 Taliban rule, are prone to be left behind.

Blinken mentioned the U.S. was working with different international locations within the area to both maintain the Kabul airport open after Tuesday or to reopen it “in a well timed vogue.”


He additionally mentioned that whereas the airport is vital, “there are different methods to go away Afghanistan, together with by highway and plenty of international locations border Afghanistan.” The U.S., he mentioned, is “ensuring that we have now in place the entire obligatory instruments and means to facilitate the journey for many who search to go away Afghanistan” after Tuesday.

There are also roughly 280 others who’ve mentioned they’re Individuals however who’ve instructed the State Division they plan to stay within the nation or are nonetheless undecided. In keeping with the most recent totals, about 114,000 individuals have been evacuated because the Taliban takeover on Aug. 14, together with roughly 2,900 on army and coalition flights in the course of the 24 hours ending at 3 a.m. on Sunday.

Members of Congress criticized the chaotic and violent evacuation.

“We didn’t should be on this rush-rush circumstance with terrorists respiration down our neck,” mentioned Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah. “However it’s actually the duty of the prior administration and this administration that has triggered this disaster to be upon us and has led to what’s with out query a humanitarian and overseas coverage tragedy.”

Senate Republican chief Mitch McConnell of Kentucky mentioned the U.S. coverage in Afghanistan, with 2,500 troops on the bottom, had been working. “We had been, in impact, protecting the lid on, protecting terrorists from reconstituting, and having a lightweight footprint within the nation,” he mentioned.

U.S. officers mentioned the American drone strike hit a automobile carrying a number of Islamic State suicide bombers, inflicting secondary explosions indicating the presence of a considerable quantity of explosive materials. A senior U.S. official, mentioned the army drone fired a Hellfire missile at a automobile in a compound between two buildings after people had been seen loading explosives into the trunk.

The official mentioned there was an preliminary explosion attributable to the missile, adopted by a a lot bigger fireball, believed to be the results of the substantial quantity of explosives contained in the automobile. The U.S. believes that two Islamic State group people who had been focused had been killed. In a press release, U.S. Central Command mentioned it’s trying into the studies of civlian casualties that will have been attributable to the secondary explosions. An Afghan official mentioned three youngsters had been killed within the strike. The officers spoke on situation of anonymity to debate army operations.

It was the second airstrike in latest days the U.S. has carried out in opposition to the militant group, which claimed duty for the suicide bombing Thursday on the Kabul airport gate that killed 13 U.S. service members and scores of Afghans struggling to get in a foreign country and escape the brand new Taliban rule. The Pentagon mentioned a U.S. drone mission in japanese Afghanistan killed two members of IS’ Afghanistan affiliate early Saturday native time in retaliation for the airport bombing.

In Delaware, Biden met privately with the households of the American troops killed within the suicide assault, and solemnly watched because the stays of the fallen returned to U.S. soil from Afghanistan. First girl Jill Biden and lots of the high U.S. protection and army leaders joined him on the tarmac at Dover Air Power Base to grieve with family members because the “dignified switch” of stays unfolded, a army ritual for these killed in overseas fight.

Sullivan mentioned earlier that the U.S. would proceed strikes in opposition to IS and think about “different operations to go after these guys, to get them and to take them off the battlefield.” He added: “We’ll proceed to deliver the combat to the terrorists in Afghanistan to verify they don’t symbolize a risk to america.

In a joint assertion, the U.S. and about 100 different nations mentioned they’re dedicated to making sure that their residents, staff, Afghans and others in danger will have the ability to journey freely from Afghanistan. The assertion mentioned the Taliban have made assurances that “all overseas nationals and any Afghan citizen with journey authorization from our international locations will likely be allowed to proceed in a secure and orderly method to factors of departure and journey outdoors the nation.”

The 13 service members had been the primary U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan since February 2020, the month the Trump administration struck an settlement with the Taliban during which the militant group halted assaults on Individuals in change for a U.S. settlement to take away all troops and contractors by Could 2021. Biden introduced in April that the two,500 to three,000 troops who remained could be out by September, ending what he has referred to as America’s endlessly battle.

With Biden’s approval, the Pentagon this month despatched hundreds of extra troops to the Kabul airport to offer safety and to facilitate the State Division’s chaotic effort to evacuate hundreds of Individuals and tens of hundreds of Afghans who had helped america in the course of the battle. The evacuation was marred by confusion and chaos because the U.S. authorities was caught without warning when the Afghan military collapsed and the Taliban swept to energy Aug. 15.

The White Home has rescheduled Biden’s assembly with Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, from Monday to Wednesday because the U.S. pullout from Afghanistan enters its tense closing hours.

Sullivan appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” CNN’s “State of the Union” and “Fox Information Sunday.” Blinken was interviewed on ABC’s “This Week” and NBC’s “Meet the Press.” McConnell was on Fox and Romney was on CNN.

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Related Press writers Matthew Lee and Hope Yen in Washington and Aamer Madhani at Dover Air Power Base, Delaware, contributed to this report.