The US has advised its citizens in Afghanistan to refrain from traveling to Kabul Airport. The threat of terrorism from Islamic State (IS), an extremist group in Afghanistan, which is in chaos due to the occupation of the Taliban, has spread, and the US plan to escape its citizens has been disrupted.
The U.S. embassy in Afghanistan said in a statement on the 21st (local time) that it “advises American citizens to avoid traveling to and from airports and exiting airports unless they have received individual guidance from the authorities.” The U.S. embassy added, “If the security situation changes, we will contact U.S. citizens.” The German embassy also advised its citizens not to go to Kabul Airport, saying that Taliban control is intensifying. “The situation at Kabul Airport is still very difficult,” the German defense ministry said on Twitter.
The Associated Press reported that the reason for the airport ban was “because of the possibility that ISIS could threaten Americans in Afghanistan.” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said at a briefing today that the Taliban are communicating with the Taliban to ensure safe passage for their own citizens and US-backed Afghans, but “not all Taliban fighters have decided to do so.”
US President Joe Biden convened a foreign and security team at the White House on the same day to discuss counter-terrorism operations, including IS Khorasan, the Afghan branch of ISIS, and evacuation operations from Afghanistan, the White House said. President Biden canceled plans to spend the weekend at his home in Wilmington, Del. “ISIS Khorasan still has the ability to conduct devastating attacks in urban areas, including Kabul,” Al Jazeera said.
The Pentagon has not ruled out the possibility of sending US troops to the outskirts of Kabul Airport. Until now, the US military has limited its evacuation support mission to Kabul Airport, but the situation is changing due to the threat of IS. A senior U.S. official told The Associated Press that “a new method of transporting refugees to Kabul airport must be developed,” adding that the U.S. military is considering taking its citizens to Kabul Airport at a third transit point.
U.S. plans to evacuate its own citizens and Afghans who cooperated with the U.S. are being disrupted. The Pentagon said on the same day that 17,000 Americans, including 2,500 Americans, had been evacuated from Kabul over the past week. The day before, 3,800 people were evacuated by military C-17 and charter planes 38 times. It is far from the target of evacuating up to 9,000 people a day.
As tens of thousands of people rush to escape Afghanistan near the Kabul airport, the death toll has been increasing. Britain’s Sky News reported that at least three bodies were seen as people waiting outside the airport were dehydrated and exhausted. Western troops have erected barbed wire barricades near Kabul airport, but desperate Afghans are handing babies over barbed wire fences to western soldiers in the hope of saving the baby, the British Independent reported. The Taliban also installed checkpoints on their way to Kabul Airport to prevent Afghans from escaping.
Americans or Afghans with documentation of cooperation with the US military are also stranded around the airport. The Guardian said the five families of Afghan families were instructed by the U.S. consulate to get U.S. visas and go to a U.S. base at Kabul Airport, but were waiting at the airport entrance for the fourth day. “We’re in hell,” said the Afghani, saying that many of those waiting outside the airport are US permanent residents.