- As Biden considers pushing the Aug. 31 exit deadline, Taliban warns against that.
- White House says over 16,000 people were evacuated between Sunday and Monday from Kabul.
- China says Americans are running away from Afghanistan. It stands ready to help Taliban rebuild.
President Joe Biden said on Sunday that the U.S. may look to extend its Aug. 31 deadline for exiting Afghanistan, again vowing that any American who wants to leave the country will be evacuated.
“There's discussions going on among us and the military about extending,” he said. “Our hope is we will not have to extend.”
But Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen, in an interview with Sky News on Monday, said Aug. 31 is a “red line” and that extending the American presence would “provoke a reaction.”
"So if they extended, that means they are extending occupation," he said. While there is no need for that, I think it will deteriorate the relation, it will create mistrust between us. If they are intent on continuing the occupation, so it will provoke a reaction."
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Meanwhile, an Afghan guard died Monday in a firefight at Kabul's Hamid Karzai International Airport. The guard had been exchanging gunfire with unidentified men.
To help speed evacuations, the Air Force is sending nearly three dozen C-17 transport planes to Kabul on Monday, CNN reports, adding that as many as 20,000 people are awaiting an airlift.
American evacuations from Afghanistan picked up speed over the weekend, with President Joe Biden telling the country on Sunday afternoon that 11,000 people had been airlifted out of Kabul in the previous 30 hours.
FORT McCOY, Wis. – Afghan refugees have begun arriving at Fort McCoy in western Wisconsin for temporary housing and support after their home country fell to the Taliban.
According to a statement from the Army base, Afghans with special immigrant visa applicants, their families and other individuals at risk began arriving at the base Sunday as part of the continuing U.S. airlift. This is in addition to Afghans currently undergoing processing at Fort Lee, Virginia. More arrivals are expected in the coming days.
Fort McCoy spokeswoman Cheryl Phillips said refugees are flying into Volk Field Air National Guard Base and being transported to Fort McCoy, which is located between Tomah and Sparta, about 100 miles northwest of Madison.
It was not immediately clear how many refugees Fort McCoy will be receiving. However, 1,000 soldiers from the U.S. Army and U.S. Army Reserve are assembling at Fort McCoy to provide support.
Fort McCoy is one three military installations in the U.S. approved by the Department of Defense for temporary housing. U.S. Northern Command is working to build additional capacity at the Wisconsin base, as well as at Fort Lee, Fort Bliss in Texas, and potentially other bases.
The last time Fort McCoy served as a refugee center was in 1980, when it housed 14,000 Cubans who fled Fidel Castro's government.
– Associated Press
The Pentagon update its evacuation numbers at a press briefing on Tuesday morning.
As of Monday morning, there have been 16,000 people evacuated on 25 U.S. military C-17s, three C-130s and a combination of 61 other military, charter and commercial flights, Gen. Hank Taylor said.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby also acknowledged that the U.S. military has made at least one more rescue of U.S. citizens in Kabul by helicopter. The Pentagon had previously acknowledged one such rescue last Thursday.
– Tom Vanden Brook
An attack outside Hamid Karzai International Airport left one Afghan soldier dead, according to the U.S. military.
No U.S. troops or other allied forces were wounded in what Navy Capt. William Urban called a "brief exchange of gunfire" last night. The gunfight broke out near the airport's north gate, where the U.S. military is mounting its evacuation operations.
An unknown gunman fired upon Afghan security forces guarding the gate, Urban said in a statement. U.S., coalition and Afghan troops returned fire. Several Afghans were wounded and are being treated at an airfield hospital. They are in stable condition.
Concerns about safety at the airport have increased in recent days as officials worry about terror attacks.
– Tom Vanden Brook
Vice President Kamala Harris, in Singapore in the first stop of a Southeast Asia tour, took questions on how events unfolded over the last week in Afghanistan. Noting that there "is going to be plenty of time to analyze" the fall of the government, she said Monday the U.S. is focused solely on getting Americans and allies out of the country.
"There is no question that our focus has to be on evacuating American citizens, Afghans who worked with us, and vulnerable Afghans, including women and children," Harris said. "That has to be our primary focus and where we are placing our attention on the issue of Afghanistan."
– Katie Wadington
BEIJING — China is once again criticizing the United States over Afghanistan, saying America cannot simply abandon the war-torn country.
“The United States is the root cause and the biggest external factor in the Afghan issue,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said on Monday. “It cannot just run away like this.”
He called on the U.S. to help maintain stability, avoid chaos and rebuild Afghanistan.
“I hope the U.S. side can match its acts with words, take on its responsibilities in Afghanistan and put into practice its commitments to Afghanistan in terms of development and reconstruction, and humanitarian assistance,” he told a daily briefing.
China has expressed readiness to work with all parties in Afghanistan, including the Taliban, to rebuild the war-torn nation.
– Associated Press
The White House released updated evacuation numbers on Monday morning.
In the 24-hour period starting at 3 a.m. EDT Sunday, 28 U.S. military flights – including 25 C-17 and 3 C-130 transport planes – airlifted about 10,400 people. Another, 5,900 people were evacuated on 61 coalition aircraft.
That brings to 37,000 the total number of people who have been evacuated by the U.S. or had their evacuation "facilitated" by the U.S, the White House said.
– Katie Wadington
As the Tailban entered its second week of governing Afghanistan, a new threat gained attention: ISIS-K.
The threat of ISIS terror attacks in Kabul on civilians surrounding the airport and on American forces posted there has forced changes in planning for the evacuation, according to two U.S. officials.
The fear is that ISIS-K might target the crowds of Afghans and others swarming the gates at Hamid Karzai International airport, one official said. The airfield is secured by more than 5,000 U.S. troops. But the security that exists beyond its perimeter has been provided by the Taliban, who have been beating Afghans and some U.S. citizens at checkpoints leading to the airport.
– Tom Vanden Brook, Josh Meyer
LONDON — Britain is urging the United States to extend its evacuation effort in Kabul beyond the current Aug. 31 deadline, saying without the Americans that other countries will have no choice but to stop their own operations to help people fleeing the Taliban takeover.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to press President Joe Biden at an emergency meeting of Group of Seven leaders on Tuesday convened by Britain.
Some U.K. military leaders have said Britain should keep troops at Kabul airport to continue the evacuation effort even if the Americans leave. But Armed Forces Minister James Heappey said Monday that “there is a hard reality that there would be no international airlift without the way that the U.S. are underpinning it.”
He said that “whether or not the U.S. can be persuaded to stay is a matter for the prime minister tomorrow in the G-7 meeting.” He said that an agreement from the Taliban would also be needed for an extension.
Biden has not ruled out extending the airlift beyond the Aug. 31 deadline he set before the Taliban’s swift takeover in Afghanistan, but he said he hoped it would not be necessary.
Britain says its forces have evacuated more than 5,700 people — chiefly U.K. citizens and Afghans — from Kabul in the last 10 days, 1,821 of them in the past 24 hours.
– Associated Press
What happened in Afghanistan:What we know about evacuations after Taliban takeover