Poland became the first Western country to wrap up its rescue mission in Afghanistan ahead of the complete American troop withdrawal due on Aug. 31.
“After a long analysis of reports on the security situation, we cannot risk the lives of our diplomats and of our soldiers any longer,” said Polish deputy foreign minister Marcin Przydacz on Wednesday, Aug. 25, according to the Associated Press.
Przydacz said some troops would linger longer to wrap up operations. Poland has deployed more than a dozen airplanes to fly hundreds of evacuees to Warsaw, with some of them then moving on to other nations.
After the Taliban’s warning of “consequences,” the slight consideration of an extended deadline was thwarted as President Joe Biden has said he would stick to the date.
“Every day we’re on the ground is another day that we know ISIS-K is seeking to target the airport and attack both us and allied forces and innocent civilians,” Biden said at the White House, the AP reported.
Other countries that are aiding in the evacuation mission would likely withdraw soon after Poland.
According to the Guardian, France and Germany would not exclude the possibility that their rescue effort would end by Thursday. Hungary, while not announcing any specific date, is also near its mission end.
“Due to extreme tension on the ground … and the scheduled departure of American forces, these evacuations are a true race against time,” said French government spokesman Gabriel Attal, as AP reported.
Germany shared similar safety views as it said the evacuation mission would end soon.
“That the overall deployment literally stands and falls with the stance of the militarily strongest member of the alliance, the U.S., was always clear to us,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said.
Analyst Patricia Lewis expected that the evacuation mission by foreign countries, in general, would wrap up soon before the U.S. military starts to pack up.
“There’s a huge amount of stuff that has to be done, including getting all the people out who are doing the job and all the equipment,” Lewis explained. “All of the allies are highly dependent on the U.S. for military cover, particularly air cover.”
As of Wednesday, a White House update said about 19,000 individuals were evacuated from Kabul on Tuesday, bringing the total number of refugees who escaped Afghanistan since Aug. 14 to 82,300.
Estimates say, at least 300,000 are at risk of the Taliban due to their links to the United States and its western allies.