US and India step up evacuations from Kabul as Taliban promise ‘safe passage’ for civilians

The United States and several countries stepped up their efforts to airlift their Afghan citizens and personnel on Wednesday when the Taliban promised “safe passage” for civilians traveling to Kabul airport amid growing concerns about the safety of Afghan citizens. trying to reach the main point of departure from the city.

The White House said Tuesday that about 3,200 people have been evacuated by the US military so far, including US citizens, permanent residents and their families on 13 flights.

But White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on Tuesday acknowledged reports that some civilians were meeting resistance – “they were turned away, pushed back or even beaten” – while trying to reach Hamid Karzai International Airport.

However, Sullivan maintained that “a large number” were arriving at the airport and that the problem of others was being addressed by the Taliban after the chaotic scenes on Monday in which Afghans desperately tried to flee from the seizure of power by the Taliban. Taliban.

The United States wants to complete evacuations before the Aug. 31 withdrawal deadline, and thousands of American soldiers were at the airport as the Pentagon planned to increase the flights of its massive C-17 transport jets to as many as two dozen a day.

“Now that we have established the flow, we expect those numbers to increase,” said a White House official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The United States seeks to expand its presence in Afghanistan

State Department spokesman Ned Price said Tuesday that the United States could decide to maintain its main diplomatic presence, which now operates out of the airport after the closure of the US embassy, ​​after August 31.

He also called on the Taliban to honor their promises to respect the rights of citizens, including women.

Afghans who received US refugee visas are also airlifted, primarily for having worked as translators for US and NATO forces, other foreign nationals and other unspecified “at risk” Afghans.

‘Difficult and complicated’ exercise

India, France, Germany and Australia have also organized evacuations in recent days.

India evacuated about 150 people Tuesday night, including the Indian ambassador and all other diplomats from Afghanistan, according to the Foreign Ministry.

They were flown on a special military flight to Hindon Air Base, near the capital New Delhi.

Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar called the evacuation process a “difficult and complicated” exercise.

France, Germany and some other countries have also been able to pick up their qualified Afghan nationals and for travel to those countries.

France began its evacuations early Tuesday with military planes carrying French and Afghan nationals to a base in the United Arab Emirates, Defense Minister Florence Parly said.

A second French military flight carrying evacuees left Kabul overnight for Abu Dhabi, witnesses at the airport said Wednesday.

( Jowharwith AFP and AP)

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