President Biden and US military officials said Thursday that the airlift mission in Kabul will continue despite the deadly suicide attacks outside the airport.
Since the airlift started on August 14th, over 95,000 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan. From early Wednesday to Thursday, about 13,400 evacuees were flown out. The State Department said in that period, more than 500 Americans were evacuated.
The State Department said it is in contact with about another 1,000 US citizens who are still in Afghanistan. A department spokesperson said more than two-thirds of that group said they are taking steps to leave Afghanistan, and some are choosing to stay.
“We believe many, if not most, of these individuals are nearly or already out of the country. And, we know that dozens more do not wish to leave Afghanistan for a range of reasons,” the spokesperson said, according to The Hill.
When President Biden delivered remarks on the suicide attacks, he said it would not “deter” him from completing the evacuations. “We can and we must complete this mission and we will,” he said. “And that’s what I’ve ordered them to do. We will not be deterred by terrorists. We will not let them stop our mission.”
Gen. Frank McKenzie, the head of US Central Command, made similar comments when he spoke with reporters earlier in the day. “We’re continuing to execute the mission. Our mission is to evacuate US citizens, third-country nationals, special immigrant Visa holders, US embassy staff, and Afghans at risk. Despite this attack, we are continuing this mission,” he said.
Neither McKenzie nor Biden indicated that there were plans to push back the August 31st withdrawal deadline. The Taliban has warned there would be “consequences” if foreign troops remain in the country come September.