President Joe Biden said that he could keep the U.S. troops in Afghanistan past his Aug. 31 withdrawal deadline if necessary to ensure all Americans are evacuated from the country.
“If there’s American citizens left, we’re gonna stay to get them all out,” Biden said in an interview with ABC News aired on Wednesday night, Aug. 18.
ABC News host George Stephanopoulos asked Biden, “We’ve got like 10 to 15,000 Americans in the country right now. Right? And are you committed to making sure that the troops stay until every American who wants to be out is out?”
“Yes,” Biden replied, adding that in addition to 10,000–15,000 Americans waiting to be evacuated, there are between 50,000 to 65,000 Afghan civilians and their families that the United States wants to get out.
“The commitment holds to get everyone out that, in fact, we can get out and everyone who should come out. And that’s the objective. That’s what we’re doing now. And I think we’ll get there,” Biden said.
Biden earlier this year set Aug. 31 as the deadline for a total withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan.
Biden told Stephanopoulos that he would try to get the troop withdrawal done by the Aug. 31 deadline but conceded that the mission could take longer.
“If you’re American force—if there’s American citizens left, we’re gonna stay to get them all out,” Biden said.
To meet the target by the deadline, the administration needs to get 5,000–7,000 people out of Afghanistan each day.
Biden announced on July 8 that their military mission in Afghanistan would conclude by the end of August. Still, his administration was forced to send thousands of soldiers back to the country to facilitate the evacuation of civilians and refugees after the Taliban quickly captured Kabul on Sunday, leading to the fall of the country’s government.
A spokesperson for the Taliban said on Tuesday President Biden should respect the withdrawal agreement signed by the Trump administration last year, warning that U.S. troops should leave Afghanistan by Sept. 11.
The U.S. State Department on Tuesday informed that they could not guarantee the safety of Americans who are trying to make that trek to the airport at this time.