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