The evacuation flight from Kabul’s airport began to end on Saturday as the United States was preparing to withdraw the remaining troops from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan amid the ongoing threat of terrorist attacks.
The evacuation of British citizens ended on Saturday and the country had begun to take the rest of the army home, Nick Carter, chief defense staff, told the BBC’s Radio 4.
The departure of the army marked the end of a turbulent 20-year war in Afghanistan full of sadness and despair, with many inhabitants afraid of living under Taliban control, suffering from cash shortages and rising food prices.
The suicide bombing alleged by Islamic State militants who killed dozens of people outside Kabul Airport this week caused further pain and hampered evacuation efforts.
“We couldn’t take everyone out, and it was painful,” General Carter told the BBC. “There were some very difficult decisions that had to be made in the field.”
French officials said on Friday that France had also finished its evacuation.
Three days until the deadline for President Biden to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan on August 31st. Still, the mission was already delayed as it moved from airlifting Afghan civilians to taking US troops and military personnel home.
Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor, Deputy Director of Regional Operations, said on Saturday that about 6,800 people had been evacuated from the airport in the last 24 hours, reaching a total of 117,000 since the operation began on August 14. Earlier Thursday, before the suicide bombing, when White House officials said 13,400 people had been airlifted in the last 24 hours.
It is believed that hundreds of thousands of Afghans are still trying to flee the country, but Biden and other world leaders have admitted that many will not leave by the deadline.
On Saturday, there were signs that evacuation efforts at the airport were slowing.
Roads to the airport were closed, and the aftermath of the bombing that the U.S. military struck while screening for immigrants wiped out a large crowd that had recently been tense to push.
Most gates were closed on Saturday and most people weren’t through. Buses carrying hundreds of people lined up at the airport’s South Gate, which remained open on Saturday, and meticulous screening of explosives slowed processing.
The attack on Thursday was one of the deadliest in almost 20 years since the US-led invasion, killing 13 US military personnel and 170 civilians.
Pentagon officials said on Saturday that some of the people killed in the aftermath of a suicide bomber at Kabul Airport could have been killed in a shooting from U.S. military personnel after the suicide bomber exploded. Publicly acknowledged.
Pentagon officials also said two “famous” Islamic State militants were killed in a Friday night drone strike in Nangahar as part of U.S. retaliation for a suicide bombing at the airport. Said he was injured.