With hundreds, if not thousands, of Americans still reportedly trapped in Afghanistan amid the Biden administration’s botched troop withdrawal, the U.S. embassy in the country is now telling stranded Americans not to go near the airport in Kabul.
Thus far this week, the Biden administration has maintained that it is relying on the Taliban to allow safe passage of civilians to Hamid Karzai International Airport for extraction. The situation has been portrayed as safe by the White House.
But a message from the embassy Saturday morning to American citizens contradicted messaging from the White House with regard to the safety of attempting to flee the country.
The embassy early Saturday issued a security alert which told Americans in Kabul to shelter in place.
“Because of potential security threats outside the gates at the Kabul airport, we are advising U.S. citizens to avoid traveling to the airport and to avoid airport gates at this time unless you receive individual instructions from a U.S. government representative to do so,” the message stated.
“U.S. citizens requesting assistance in departing the country who have not yet to completed the Repatriation Assistance Request for each traveler in their group should do so as soon as possible,” the message added. “Spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens in Afghanistan who are awaiting immigrant visas should also complete this form if they wish to depart.”
With emphasis added, the embassy stated: “Do not call the U.S. Embassy in Kabul for details or updates about the flight. This form is the only way to communicate interest in flight options.”
The message was sent out amid reports of gunfire outside the airport gates in recent days.
USA Today reported that videos emerged showing alleged Taliban fighters opening fire outside the gates on Thursday. The gunfire reportedly dispersed a crowd of people from mixed nationalities desperate to escape the country.
On Saturday, Sky News reported that a crowd of thousands had created a dangerous situation where people were being crushed.
America’s withdrawal deadline from Afghanistan is Aug. 31. With ten days left to evacuate thousands of people, time is not on the side of American forces.
“This is the worst day by far.”@ramsaysky says the situation at Kabul’s airport is “utterly horrendous”, and that ‘hardened soldiers’ told him its the “worst thing they have ever seen in their entire career” pic.twitter.com/dQwo47HMiQ
— Sky News (@SkyNews) August 21, 2021
The message from the embassy, and the numerous reports of safety threats, come after President Joe Biden said during an interview on Wednesday with ABC News that the situation at the airport was secure.
Biden agreed with the network’s George Stephanopoulos that there is “pandemonium,” but stated nobody is being killed.
“But, look — but no one’s being killed right now, God forgive me if I’m wrong about that, but no one’s being killed right now.”
??: Stephanopoulos says there’s still a lot of pandemonium at the Kabul airport.
— John Cooper (@thejcoop) August 19, 2021
He then knocked on wood. Biden’s statements thus far about the situation in Kabul are contradicted by reports from the ground.
Now, the embassy in the country is contradicting Biden’s portrayal of the evaluations in Kabul as being mostly safe and orderly.
The embassy on Saturday asked Americans trapped in Afghanistan to “[b]e aware of your surroundings at all times, especially in large crowds,” and to “[f]ollow the instructions of local authorities including movement restrictions related to curfews.”
“Monitor local media for breaking events and adjust your plans based on new information,” the embassy said.
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