“Multiple deaths and injuries reported in twin blasts outside Kabul airport.”
NATO allies are halting evacuation as explosions rock Kabul’s airport claiming multiple lives. Initial reports from the Afghan capital speak of at least ten U.S. marines and soldiers being killed in the twin blast.
The decision to end the airlift was made ahead of today’s blast. German, British, and other Western intelligence agencies had repeatedly urged their citizens to avoid the airport amid terror threats from the newly-resurrected Islamic State (ISIS) in Afghanistan. Hours ahead of the blasts, German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, and British Armed Forces Minister James Heappey renewed their warning of an impending terror attack.
BREAKING: Four U.S. Marines Killed in #Kabul airport explosions and 3 wounded, WSJ reporting.
US Pres is in briefings on #Afghanistan with national security team.
— Joyce Karam (@Joyce_Karam) August 26, 2021
The Taliban further hindered the evacuation as its fighters beefed up their checkpoints around the airport, preventing foreign nationals and Afghans from fleeing the country.
According to German media reports, Berlin will be halting the evacuation on Thursday. “The security situation at the Kabul airport has deteriorated further and the threat of a terror attack is becoming increasingly concrete,” a spokesperson for Germany’s Minister of Defence said.
“France has announced that it will end its evacuation operations on Friday afternoon,” German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported on Thursday. “The UK is planning to end its airlift efforts before US forces depart at the end of the month,” the broadcaster added.
Canada is also winding down its operations today. “General Wayne Eyre, the country’s acting chief of Defense Staff, said all the other countries have to leave the airport before the Americans can wrap up their mission,” The Associated Press reported on Thursday.
Since the fall of Kabul, the U.S. and the Western governments have mounted one of the biggest airlifts in history. “Nearly 90,000 Afghans and foreigners have fled Afghanistan via the US-led airlift since the Taliban seized power on August 15,” the German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported on Thursday.
The Wall Street Journal reported as the massive airlift mission comes to an end:
Several European countries said they were halting evacuation flights from Afghanistan, leaving behind citizens and thousands of Afghans who had been cleared for entry, because the U.S. needs time to wind down operations ahead of the Aug. 31 withdrawal deadline.
As the airlift opportunities began disappearing, against the backdrop of what Western officials have called a heightened threat of terrorism, desperate Afghans and foreign citizens still tried to reach Kabul’s international airport but on Thursday morning found the roads blocked by Taliban checkpoints.
Despite the massive airlift operation, many Western citizens may still be stranded in the Taliban-ruled country. “More than 10,000 people at Kabul airport are waiting to be evacuated according to Pentagon estimates,” UK’s Guardian reported as the airlift comes to a halt.
There could be up to 1,500 Americans still in Afghanistan, media reports on early Thursday suggested. Some “200 German citizens are still believed to be in Kabul,” but the numbers are expected to rise, Deutsche Welle noted.
Biden Rejects European Pleas to Extend Kabul Evacuation
Ahead of the Kabul blasts, President Joe Biden rejected pleas of European and NATO allies to extend the evacuation of their nationals and refugees beyond the end of the month. “The US has set a deadline of 31 August for the withdrawal of its troops, with President Joe Biden rejecting calls from Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other allies for an extension,” the BBC confirmed. NATO allies “race to evacuate thousands before foreign troops depart,” the broadcaster added.
If Taliban Plays Nice, Blinken Ready to “Work With” Their “Government”
Blinken suggested that if the Taliban kept its promises, the Biden administration “can work with” the newly-declared Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
“If a future government upholds the basic rights of the Afghan people, if it makes good on its commitments to ensure that Afghanistan cannot be used as a launching pad for terrorist attacks . . . and in the first instance, if it makes good on its commitments to allow people who want to leave Afghanistan to leave — that’s a government we can work with,” Blinken said.
While the Taliban fighters were searching door-to-door for former Afghan government and security officials as well as those who assisted the U.S. and NATO troops, Secretary Blinken reminded the Taliban of its “responsibility” to “provide safe passage for anyone who wishes to leave the country.”
But statements by the Taliban and news reports on the ground suggest that the Taliban is already going back on that “commitment.”
The U.S “can take all the people that belong to them but we are not going to allow Afghans to leave and we will not extend the deadline,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said earlier this week. Taliban’s encirclement of Kabul airport is making evacuations more and more difficult.
A 345-seat chartered plane to evacuate Afghans leaves Kabul empty today because they couldn't get through Taliban checkpoints and US military gates at airport.
— Farnaz Fassihi (@farnazfassihi) August 25, 2021
UK’s Johnson Proposes Unfreezing Billion’s to Get Evacuees Out
With no more military leverage left in Afghanistan, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson offered financial incentives to the Taliban to get the fleeing Afghans out of the country. The West could release $9.5 billion of frozen Afghan assets to the Taliban regime, the suggested.
The Times of London reported Prime Minister’s desperate plea:
Boris Johnson has said that billions of pounds in Afghan assets could be unfrozen if the Taliban allows migrants to flee the country safely.
The prime minister said that western countries had “huge leverage” to persuade the Taliban to keep routes out of the country open beyond the final withdrawal of troops on August 31.
Last week, the US froze $9.5 billion in assets belonging to the central bank of Afghanistan.
Moscow: Taliban Captures Russian-Made Helicopters From Afghan Army
As the dust settles over the Taliban offensive, more details of advanced military equipment falling its hands emerge. The jihadist militia captured many Russian-made military helicopters from the routed Afghan national army, Russian officials said. Taliban “captured at least 100 Mi-17 Hip helicopters, a Russian-made transport aircraft procured by the US for the Afghan armed forces,” British newspaper The Guardian reported.
The Taliban has already deployed these choppers. “Videos had surfaced of Taliban fighters flying in an Mi-17 earlier this month,” the newspaper confirmed.
The fleeing Afghan army left behind billions of dollars worth of U.S. military hardware, from 200,000 firearms to 50,000 tactical vehicles. “Aircraft likely left for the Taliban to use includes over 160 planes and helicopters, including four C-130 transport aircraft, 23 A-29 Super Tucano turboprop attack aircraft, 45 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and 50 MD530 choppers,” UK’S Daily Mail reported recently.DONATE
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