search

Biden decides to stick with Aug. 31 final pullout from Kabul, official says

US President Joe Biden speaks about the evacuation of American citizens, their families, SIV applicants and vulnerable Afghans in the East Room of the White House, on August 20, 2021, in Washington, DC. Vice President Kamala Harris, left, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken listen. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
US President Joe Biden speaks about the evacuation of American citizens, their families, SIV applicants and vulnerable Afghans in the East Room of the White House, on August 20, 2021, in Washington, DC. Vice President Kamala Harris, left, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken listen. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

US President Joe Biden has decided to stick with his August 31 deadline for completing the US-led evacuation from Afghanistan, an administration official says. The decision reflects in part the US military’s concern about heightened security threats to the massive airlift that began ten days ago.

A Taliban spokesman, speaking prior to word of Biden’s decision, reiterated that the militant group would oppose any extension of the deadline. It has allowed the airlift to continue without major interference.

Pressure had grown for Biden to extend his deadline, which he set well before the Taliban completed its takeover of Afghanistan on August 15. It remains unclear whether the airlift from Kabul’s international airport can get all American citizens, and at-risk Afghans who fear for their lives, out by then.

Biden made his decision after consultation with his national security team, the administration official says, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss a decision not yet publicly announced.

Weighing the risks of keeping forces on the ground beyond the deadline, Biden opted to complete the mission by next Tuesday.

Biden asked his national security team to create contingency plans in case a situation arose for which the deadline needed to be extended slightly, the official says.

In this image provided by the US Marine Corps, families begin to board a US Air Force Boeing C-17 Globemaster III during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 23, 2021. (Sgt. Samuel Ruiz/US Marine Corps via AP)

US officials have repeatedly stressed the risk of continuing the airlift, due to threats of violence by the Islamic State’s Afghanistan affiliate.

Germany’s top military commander, Gen. Eberhard Zorn, said on Tuesday that the US and Germany were particularly concerned about ISIS suicide bombers potentially slipping into crowds.

comments
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed