The US military pulls off its biggest day of evacuation flights from Afghanistan since the operation began. But deadly violence that has blocked many desperate evacuees from entering Kabul’s airport persists, and the Taliban signals they might soon seek to shut down the airlifts.
About 21,600 people were flown safely out of Taliban-held Afghanistan in the 24-hour period that ended early Tuesday, the White House says. That compares with about 16,000 the previous day.
Thirty-seven US military flights — 32 C-17s and 5 C-130s — carried about 12,700 evacuees. An additional 8,900 people flew out aboard 57 flights by US allies.
Pentagon chief spokesman John Kirby said Monday the faster pace of evacuation was partly due to coordination with Taliban commanders on getting evacuees into the airport.
“Thus far, and going forward, it does require constant coordination and deconfliction with the Taliban,” Kirby said. “What we’ve seen is, this deconfliction has worked well in terms of allowing access and flow as well as reducing the overall size of the crowds just outside the airport.”