The Biden administration has five days left before the August 31 deadline it agreed to with the Taliban, but CNN reports that the Biden administration plans to finish evacuations much sooner than that.
CNN’s John Berman and Brianna Keilar reported Thursday on New Day that U.S. officials told the network that evacuations will conclude within 36 hours.
“Overnight, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul warned all Americans do not travel to the airport. And for people already gathered at certain airport gates, the message was even more urgent, it was leave immediately,” Keilar reported. “One defense official told CNN there’s a very specific threat stream from ISIS-K about planned attacks against crowds there. And this warning specifically names three airport gates.”
A suicide bombing at Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) was later reported, followed by a second explosion and reports of a firefight. At least 3 U.S. troops were wounded, according to Fox News. But reports on fatalities are still coming in.
The Biden administration claims that less than a thousand American citizens remain in the country, though more reliable estimates have suggested that the number is much higher, and more than 5,000 could be left behind, even if U.S. troops continued evacuations to the August 31 deadline.
According to one U.S. official, the number of Americans evacuated by U.S. troops has been kept quiet because it’s “embarrassingly low.”
For what it’s worth, the Pentagon, which hasn’t been a reliable source on the situation, is disputing CNN’s report. “Evacuation operations in Kabul will not be wrapping up in 36 hours,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said on Twitter. “We will continue to evacuate as many people as we can until the end of the mission.”
Evacuation operations in Kabul will not be wrapping up in 36 hours. We will continue to evacuate as many people as we can until the end of the mission. #HKIA
— John Kirby (@PentagonPresSec) August 26, 2021
It’s hard to know what to believe, but the Biden administration has been less than straightforward with the American public about the situation in Afghanistan, and the terror attack that took place Thursday morning will certainly complicate the situation further.