US pressuring Taliban to leave safe corridor to Kabul airport

Washington, Aug 19 (EFE).- The Unites States is bringing pressure to bear on the Taliban for them to leave a secure corridor to the Kabul airport with an eye toward allowing US citizens and their Afghan collaborators to get to the airport, where 7,000 people have been evacuated since Aug. 14 amid and after the collapse of the US-backed government.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said at a press conference that US commanders on the ground are in frequent communication with the Taliban to facilitate the safe passage of anyone wanting to get to the airport.

In that regard, he said that Rear Adm. Peter Vasely, who is supervising the evacuation at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport is speaking more than once a day directly with the insurgents about the situation.

At the US State Department, spokesman Ned Price acknowledged that officials have seen posts on the social networks saying that there are people who are unable to reach the airport and that in some cases they are US citizens.

He said that the US is doing everything it can logistically although there is also a diplomatic element to these efforts.

Price emphasized that the US is taking the matter “very seriously,” and that Washington’s intention is to relocate the maximum number of people as quickly as possible.

Washington began the final withdrawal of its troops in Afghanistan in May but has been forced to accelerate the evacuation of Americans who had remained in Afghanistan and their local allies after the rapid advance of the Taliban, who last Sunday took Kabul and now control almost all the country.

In addition, the US has had to send military reinforcements to the city to guarantee security at the airport after the Taliban took control of the capital.

According to Pentagon figures, some 7,000 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan since Aug. 11 and currently there are 5,200 US soldiers on the ground in Kabul.

US forces have created more access routes to the airport to accelerate the process of getting Americans and their Afghan allies out of the city.

On Wednesday and Thursday, 13 C-17 military cargo aircraft arrived in Afghanistan with US soldiers and equipment while another 12 aircraft of that kind took off with 2,000 passengers on board.

So far, US authorities have been unable to determine the exact number of Americans, Afghans and citizens of other countries who have been evacuated on US military flights.

President Joe Biden said in an interview broadcast on Thursday by ABC News that there are still between 10,000 and 15,000 Americans who need to be evacuated, along with 50,000 to 65,000 Afghans and their families whom the US wants to extract from the country.

The Pentagon has said that the Taliban are not interfering with the evacuation of Americans although US officials have admitted that there have been reports that they are blocking access to the airport to Afghans who want to leave on the US flights.

The New York Times on Thursday reported that the insurgents are looking for people who have worked with US and NATO forces to punish them and have threatened to kill or arrest their relatives if they cannot find them.

The daily cited as its source a confidential United Nations document shared internally within the international organization dated Aug. 18 and provided by the Norwegian Center of Global Analyses, a threat advisory group that provides intelligence information to UN agencies.

According to the document, there are reports that the Taliban have a list of people and locations and have been going door to door arresting and/or threatening to kill or arrest members of the families of targeted people unless the people on the list turn themselves in to the Taliban.

In that regard, the foreign ministers of the G7 meeting on Thursday by videoconference expressed their concern over the “violent reprisals” being undertaken in some parts of Afghanistan as the Taliban have advanced, according to a British government communique.

The ministers emphasized the importance of the Taliban fulfilling their commitment to ensure the protection of civilians amid the chaos.

The representatives of the US, Germany, France, Italy, Canada, Japan, the UK and the European Union also urged the Taliban to “guarantee safe passage” for those foreigners and Afghans who want to leave the country.

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