U.S. forces are incapable of guaranteeing safe passage to Kabul airport, said the U.S. Embassy.
“The United States government cannot ensure safe passage to the Hamid Karzai International Airport,” the embassy informed in a security alert issued Wednesday, Aug. 18, noting that “the security situation in Kabul continues to change quickly, including at the airport.”
Also, on Wednesday, the Pentagon chief had to confirm that the U.S. military in Afghanistan lacked resources to escort Americans in Kabul to the airport for evacuation safely.
“I don’t have the capability to go out and extend operations currently into Kabul,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said, according to CNBC. But he at least promised that the force would strive its best to evacuate as many people as possible.
“We’re going to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and we’re going to get everyone that we can possibly evacuate,” he said. “And I’ll do that as long as we possibly can until the clock runs out or we run out of capability.”
Before these announcements, the U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the Taliban had promised to “provide the safe passage of civilians to the airport,” according to Reuters. But multiple social media updates have also exposed the level of the Taliban’s commitment to their words. In short,—fine words but opposite action.
“We have seen reports that the Taliban, contrary to their public statements and their commitments to our government, are blocking Afghans who wish to leave the country from reaching the airport,” said Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman. Sherman is the second-ranking diplomat at the State Department, per The Hill.
Sherman added that many Americans, Afghans with permanent residency in the United States, and Afghans at risk of Taliban assault were still arriving at the airport despite the violent stakes at the checkpoints on the route to the airport.
“I will tell you this, in spite of the obstacles, many, many Afghans in all of the categories, are finding their way to the airport,” she said.
The outlet revealed that the State Department had tried to tell Americans in Afghanistan to rush to the Hamid Karzai airfield and advised evacuees to avoid violence.
“We are aware of the large crowds at the airport gates. Please be patient. Stay safe and stay away from any aggressive elements of the crowd. You may wish to return to the airport at a later time,” the memo states.
According to The Hill, more than 10,000 American citizens are still in Afghanistan. At the same time, more than 80,000 Afghans, including those who supported the U.S. soldiers and their families, await authorization to leave the country.
Regardless of the uncertainties of accessing Kabul airport, the U.S. embassy noted that the flights out of Afghanistan would be “on a first come, first serve basis.”