As many as 80,000 Americans and Afghans who once worked for the US still need to be evacuated from Kabul amid the botched withdrawal that has been marred by violence and chaos.
The US has evacuated 7,000 from Kabul since the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan five days ago but there are still between 60,000 and 80,000 who need to get out.
That includes more than 10,000 Americans, according to CBS News.
The Biden administration has so far refused to give an estimate of how many US citizens need to be evacuated.
Two thousand were evacuated within the last 24 hours, Army Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor said Thursday.
He said the military now has enough aircraft to get 5,000 to 9,000 people out a day — depending on how many have been processed.
The US is struggling to bring order to the continuing chaos at Kabul airport amid reports that expats and Western allies are struggling to reach the evacuation flights because thousands of panicked Afghans who are trying to flee are blocking their access.
The US has at least 5,200 troops stationed at the airport to help evacuate Americans and the thousands of Afghans who helped during the war.
The Taliban have been checking papers outside the airport perimeter before allowing designated evacuees to enter the US-controlled space.
Reports have emerged in recent days that the Taliban are turning some away at checkpoints, as well as resorting to violence.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said they haven’t seen any Taliban violence against US personnel or obstruction of American citizens trying to leave.
Afghans most at risk from the Taliban are now pleading with the Biden administration for faster evacuations.
“If we don’t sort this out, we’ll literally be condemning people to death,” Marina Kielpinski LeGree, the American head of a nonprofit, Ascend, told the Associated Press.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Wednesday the US wasn’t moving fast enough with the evacuations.
“We’re going to work that 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and we’re gonna get everyone that we can possibly evacuate, evacuated. And I’ll do that as long as we possibly can — until the clock runs out or we run out of capability,” Lloyd said.
He also said the US military doesn’t have the forces and firepower to expand its current mission from securing the airport to collecting Americans and at-risk Afghans and escorting them for evacuation.
“I don’t have the capability to go out and extend operations currently into Kabul,” Austin said.
US officials insist the Taliban have agreed to allow “safe passage” for civilians struggling to get to the airport in Kabul, but many trying to flee don’t believe the insurgents.
President Biden has since vowed to keep US troops in Kabul until every American is evacuated — even if that means maintaining a military presence there beyond his Aug. 31 deadline.
Biden told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos the US will do “everything in our power” to evacuate Americans and US allies from Afghanistan before the deadline.
“If there’s American citizens left, we’re gonna stay ’til we get them all out,” Biden said when pressed on how the administration would help Americans left in the nation after the deadline.
With Post wires