Pentagon spokesman John Kirby admitted on Thursday that he “did not know” how many Americans remained in Afghanistan while the Biden administration was scrambling. Evacuate American citizens And Afghans at risk of Taliban retaliation from the country.
Kirby and Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor said 7,000 people have fled Hamid Karzai International Airport since the evacuation began on Saturday. There were 2,000 people in the last 24 hours.
But Kirby said he couldn’t analyze the number of Americans on the plane compared to people in Afghanistan and other countries.
Kirby was directly asked how many Americans there are in Afghanistan.
“I don’t know,” he said.
Reporters pushed numbers on him and questioned why the United States was carrying out a desperate operation, but there was no explanation as to how many Americans were doing harm and still needed to evacuate.
“As you probably know, first of all, I think the Department of State is a good place to estimate the number of Americans in and around Afghanistan or Kabul. It’s not a number the U.S. military knows. I don’t think I know that all American citizens in other countries are not obliged to register their existence, and you can make perfectly accurate counts, “Karby said of the Pentagon. He said defensively at the briefing.
“But I don’t have that number, and I’m referring to a State Department colleague for the best estimate about it,” he added.
The Pentagon said it wanted to evacuate up to 9,000 people daily from Kabul Airport, but Taylor said many flights took off without being full of passengers due to slow processing and the intertwining of Taliban obstacles. I admitted that. To the airport.
“We are ready to increase throughput and schedule aircraft departures accordingly. We intend to maximize the capacity of each aircraft and prioritize people above all else. And I We are focusing on doing this as safely as possible with absolute urgency, “he said, with 13 C-17 US transport planes arriving in Kabul with troops and equipment. He said 12 C-17s had departed.
Kirby and Taylor allow the military to open more gates at the airport, the State Department checks for special immigrant visas that some Afghans qualify, and more to help Americans board the plane. Said to have provided the staff.
“I believe that by opening another gate, we will soon see the opening of the opening by adding consular officers. I hope that means a more consistent increase in flow. “Kirby said. ..
“I think these additional gates have additional consular officers and additional troops are supporting consular officers, so I think they’re ready to grow, but I’d like to be careful before making any predictions. “He said. “What we are trying to do, what we want to drive, is increasing. It’s in everyone’s head.”
However, he did not guarantee that the gates were continuously accessible and that the Taliban did not occasionally block entry.
“I can’t completely tell you in the last 72 hours that you’ve never had to shut down temporarily because of a security incident. I think that’s true. I’m telling you about it. We don’t have a solid answer. Our goal is clearly to keep them as open as possible and increase the flow as much as possible, “Kirby said.
U.S. evacuation operations have been interrupted by turmoil since they began as Afghans panicked for fear that the Taliban rushed to the airport desperately to escape the country — Many people are running together While taxiing the runway, I was clinging to a US Air Force plane.
Another image was displayed Hundreds of Afghans It was stuffed into a U.S. military aircraft while it was preparing to take off.
On the streets outside the international airport, Taliban checkpoints make it difficult for Afghans to pass and are even deadly.
NS US Embassy in Kabul On Wednesday they warned Americans that they could not guarantee a safe passage to the airport.
10,000 to 15,000 Americans remain in Afghanistan. President Biden told ABC News In an interview.
The president added that the government estimates that there are still 50,000 to 65,000 Afghans in the country working with Western troops, including families.
Two Pentagon officials have also been grilled over the past few days for an F-18 fighter flying over Kabul.
According to Taylor, the jets were dispatched from the Ronald Reagan carrier strike group and were flying “armed surveillance flights” over the capital “to ensure safety.”
“We maintain careful heights and continue to make in-depth assessments to keep Americans safe. To achieve this goal, we use all the tools in the arsenal. We would like to emphasize that we have an absolute focus on the important mission of this country. We strive to ensure the safe evacuation of as many people as possible as quickly and safely as possible. I promise, “said Taylor.
Kirby said the fighter was at “altitude” and denied that it was flying “low-pass.”
He was asked if the plane had permission to fire on the Taliban if they attacked US troops and said they would. “As always, we have the right to protect ourselves, our people and our activities,” he asserted.
The Pentagon says, “I don’t know how many Americans there are in Afghanistan.”
Source link The Pentagon says, “I don’t know how many Americans there are in Afghanistan.”