UPDATED: 8/20/21 9 p.m.
Multiple countries are teaming up with the United States to help with relocation efforts in Afghanistan. On Friday, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said countries like Denmark, Germany, Italy, Kazakhstan and more are collaborating with the U.S. to help move Americans and at-risk Afghans out of the war-torn country. It comes as the United Arab Emirates announced it will temporarily house five-thousand Afghans. The Pentagon says more than 18-thousand people have been moved out of Afghanistan since the end of July.
UPDATED: 8/20/21 1 p.m.
"I made the decision" to leave Afghanistan. That's President Biden's message as he faces an onslaught of questions regarding the chaotic U.S. exit from the war-torn nation. Speaking from the White House, Biden once again said he was bound to an agreement former President Trump made with the Taliban. Biden admitted he saw reports that the collapse of Afghanistan would happen very quickly, but insisted more reports concluded a possible collapse would happen much later.
UPDATED: 8/20/21 11 a.m.
The U.S. exit from Afghanistan is once again the topic of discussion at the White House. President Biden is behind closed doors with top national security and foreign policy advisers before updating the nation from the White House. Earlier today, White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield said chaos was expected after the rapid collapse of Afghan security forces and the Afghan government. She called scenes from the Kabul airport heartbreaking.
UPDATED: 8/19/21 11 a.m.
More than 5,200 U.S. troops are now involved in airport evacuation efforts in Kabul, Afghanistan. Army Major General Hank Taylor told reporters the U.S. has evacuated roughly seven-thousand people from Kabul since Saturday. He stressed that the airport in Afghanistan's capital city remains secure and fully operational under U.S. military control. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the U.S. is laser focused on moving as many people out as quickly as possible. He also confirmed armed U.S. military jets are flying over Kabul as a security measure.
The Taliban has taken control of Afghanistan, but the Kabul airport remains under American control. The situation on the airport perimeter remains chaotic. Kirby called it a "perilous environment" and noted the protection of U.S. troops is being evaluated "hour by hour." Taylor said the total number of people who have been moved out of Afghanistan since the end of July is around 12,000. That includes American and Afghan evacuees.
UPDATED: 8/19/21 9 a.m.
President Biden says troops could remain in Afghanistan beyond the August 31st deadline. On ABC News yesterday, Biden said troops will stay until every American has been evacuated. Last month, Biden said U.S. troops would be out by the end of August. However, the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan has been quicker than anticipated and there are still over ten-thousand Americans in the country. Biden says "the commitment holds" to get everyone out.
UPDATED: 8/18/21 6 p.m.
U.S. defense leaders say they're doing what they can to get Americans and Afghans evacuated. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin reported American forces don't have the ability to go out and get large numbers of Americans if the Taliban doesn't let them get to the airport. The Department of Defense says an additional two-thousand people were evacuated from Afghanistan. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said nearly five-thousand people have been processed for evacuation over the last several days.
UPDATED: 8/18/21 5 p.m.
President Biden says he doesn't believe there was a way to leave Afghanistan without "chaos ensuing." Speaking to ABC News, Biden insisted the Taliban is cooperating and "letting American citizens get out," in spite of reports and images of the group stopping people from getting to the Kabul Airport to escape. The President insisted he made the right decision to pull the troops out, but sidestepped a question regarding planning and U.S. intelligence failures.
UPDATED: 8/18/21 7 a.m.
Evacuated Afghan families are starting to arrive in Houston. Local nonprofits say they are expecting over 130 Afghan people. Refugee Services of Texas say those arriving are not considered refugees but rather special immigrant visa holders, with most having some degree of affiliation with the U.S. military. Once they arrive to Houston, they will be given food, housing, and job assistance. Many of those being evacuated will be routed to Houston due to a large Afghan population currently rooted there.
UPDATED: 8/18/21 5 a.m.
The U.S. has frozen Afghanistan's bank assets of nearly ten billion dollars. An administration official told Bloomberg News Tuesday that billions in assets belonging to the Afghan central bank have been frozen, and that shipments of cash to the nation have been stopped to keep the Taliban from getting it. The official said Afghanistan's assets in the U.S. will not be available to the Taliban, which is still being sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department. The vast majority of the Afghan Bank's assets are reportedly not held in Afghanistan. The Treasury Department has not commented on the report
UPDATED: 8/18/21 1 a.m.
The U.S. Air Force is investigating the deaths of several Afghan civilians whose remains were found in the wheel well of a military plane that departed from Kabul on Monday. The Air Force says the plane is currently impounded to provide time to collect remains and inspect it before it's returned to flying status. News of the discovery comes after the release of a dramatic video showing crowds running along the tarmac trying to grab onto the C-17 as it was preparing for take off on Monday. Afghans flooded into the airport in Kabul in a desperate bid to flee the country after the Taliban seized the nation's capital over the weekend.
UPDATED: 8/17/21 1 p.m.
The White House is again defending the withdrawal of remaining U.S. troops from Afghanistan. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters there were no good options for a final withdrawal. He added, "What has unfolded over the past month has proven decisively that it would've taken a significant American troop presence to stop a Taliban onslaught, and we would've taken casualties." He acknowledged the chaos and praised the U.S. military for making necessary adjustments to secure the airport in Kabul for ongoing evacuations.
President Biden spoke Monday and took full responsibility for the withdrawal. He also expressed no regrets and blamed the quick Taliban takeover on the collapse of Afghan security forces. Sullivan echoed Biden, saying it was time for the U.S. to end roughly 20 years of involvement in a civil war in a foreign country. He was pressed about whether Afghanistan will once again become a safe haven for terrorists. Sullivan said the U.S. deals with terrorist threats in many hot spots around the world all the time.
UPDATED: 8/17/21 8 a.m.
The former Navy SEAL who killed Osama bin Laden in 2011 is calling on General Mark Milley to resign. Robert O'Neill tweeted the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman should step down in disgrace over the situation in Afghanistan. He began firing off on social media after the country fell to the Taliban on Sunday. He says his friends who died for no reason would be disgusted with this administration.
UPDATED: 8/17/21 7 a.m.
An "unmitigated disaster," and "a stain on the reputation of the United States of America." That's how Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is describing the Biden administration's handling of the troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. Senator McConnell made the comments yesterday, a day after the Taliban swept into Kabul claiming victory after 20 years of war there between America and our allies. McConnell said the reason for being there for two decades was to prevent terrorists from operating in a safe haven, not to build a democracy.
UPDATED: 8/16/21 6 p.m.
Former President George -W- Bush says he feels "deep sadness" over the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan. He was the first to send troops into the country after the 9-11 terrorist attack. He and former First Lady Laura Bush have been watching the situation unfold and say their hearts are heavy for the Afghan people and Americans who've sacrificed so much. He's confident the military evacuation efforts will be effective.
UPDATED: 8/16/21 5 p.m.
A former CIA Director who served in the Obama Administration is heartbroken over the fall of Afghanistan. Retired General David Petraeus spoke to NBC News and called the situation "catastrophic." He also described it as "heartbreaking" and "tragic." He said there were "alternative approaches" the U.S. couldn't taken, but he didn't mention any specifics. Petraeus was also the commander of U.S. Central Command before joining the Obama Administration. His remarks come as the Taliban gained control of the capital city of Kabul after President of Afghanistan fled the country.
UPDATED: 8/16/21 4 p.m.
President Biden is standing squarely behind his decision to withdraw remaining U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Biden spoke at the White House and said the U.S. mission in Afghanistan was never supposed to involve roughly 20 years of "nation building." The Taliban effectively gained control of the capital city of Kabul after the Afghan President fled the country. Biden said he's deeply saddened by events, but does not regret his decision. Biden acknowledged the current crisis unfolded more quickly than anticipated and cited the quick collapse of Afghan security forces. Biden said the U.S. "could not provide them the will to fight."
Biden added, "American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight themselves." Biden also argued the U.S. cannot continue to double-down on a civil war in a foreign country. The President vowed to not repeat the mistakes of the past and said he refuses to pass the Afghanistan problem to a fifth American President. U.S. military troops have maintained control of the Kabul airport, but the situation is chaotic as thousands of Afghans try to flee the country.
UPDATED: 8/16/21 4 p.m.
U.S. Senator John Cornyn is calling the collapse of Afghanistan an unforced error. The Texas Republican says the Biden administration made a major mistake in letting the Taliban know when the military would leave Afghanistan. Cornyn also says the U.S. should have provided more transitional support to Afghan partners to avoid a power vacuum. He believes all of the interpreters who worked with the military over the past 20 years will be slaughtered by the Taliban. Top Afghanistan politicians fled the country as the Taliban taking over cities.
UPDATED: 8/16/21 1 p.m.
At least seven people are dead after Afghans rushed the tarmac of the Kabul airport following the Taliban's takeover. One video shows a U.S. military aircraft attempting to take off as dozens of Afghans sprint alongside, some clinging to the outside as the aircraft gains speed. U.S. troops opened fire as they tried to control the crowd, but all evacuation flights were halted as the situation worsened. Troops killed two armed Afghans who were part of the huge crowd that breached the airport perimeter. At least one-thousand more U.S. troops are being sent to assist with future evacuations, bringing the total number of troops in Afghanistan up to six-thousand.
UPDATED: 8/16/21 12 p.m.
It's a desperate situation in Kabul as crowds of Afghans flood into the airport hoping to leave the country. Outside the airport, the Taliban is cementing its control of the capital after overrunning the country in a matter of days. Videos showed crowds running along the tarmac trying to grab onto a US Air Force plane as it was preparing for take off. In other videos people try to cling to a jetway and perhaps most disturbing, people are seen falling from an airplane they were trying to hold on to after takeoff. Air travel has reportedly been temporarily suspended at the airport as the U.S. military tries to secure the area.
UPDATED: 8/16/21 5 a.m.
The Taliban has taken control of the Afghanistan after making their way into the capital city, Kabul, on Sunday. The American embassy has been moved to Kabul's airport, which is protected by U.S. troops. Thousands of Afghans are massed on the tarmac at the airport in a desperate rush to escape the country. Video making the rounds on social media shows large crowds, including women and children, streaming toward passenger aircraft.
The Taliban took over yesterday after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country to, as he put it, prevent "a flood of bloodshed."
Texas Representative Michael McCaul says the situation in Afghanistan could have been easily avoided if the White House would have listened to Intel.
UPDATED: 8/15/21 11 p.m.
Texas Representative Michael McCaul says the situation in Afghanistan could have been easily avoided if the White House would have listened to Intel. Speaking on CNN's State of the Union, the Texas Republican believes that under the Taliban, the country could return to how it was prior to the terrorist attacks on September 11th. McCaul warned the country could become a haven for terrorists and a major threat to the U.S. The Texas representative said the U.S. is not appearing strong to the rest of the world and that the Biden administration still has no plan as the Taliban retakes control over Afghanistan.
UPDATED: 8/15/21 10 p.m.
The U.S., United Kingdom, and Australia are among the countries calling on the Taliban to let international citizens leave Afghanistan. More than 60 nations signed a joint statement saying the new rulers are responsible for the protection of human life. The statement explains the Afghan people deserve to live in safety, security, and dignity.
UPDATED: 8/15/21 5 p.m.
U.S. troops in Afghanistan are securing the airport in Kabul so Americans can leave that country. A joint statement by the departments of Defense and State said there will be six thousand troops stationed there within next 48 hours. They will be helping thousands of Americans get out of the country. They are also helping the families of people who worked as staff. Any such Afghans who have passed a security screening will come to the U.S. Officials will try to find additional locations for others who have not yet been cleared.
UPDATED: 8/15/21 4 p.m.
Former President Trump is calling on President Biden to resign. Trump blamed Biden for the Taliban's victory in Afghanistan and the surge in COVID-19 cases in a statement released Sunday. He wrote those two issues, plus the surge of migrants at the border, the crippled economy and a lack of energy independence are a disgrace. Trump made the decision to pull U.S. troops out of Afghanistan while he was still President. Biden decided to continue that policy, beginning to withdraw troops in May. The Taliban declared victory Sunday after fighting U.S. forces for two decades.
UPDATED: 8/15/21 1 p.m.
The Taliban is reportedly close to declaring victory in Afghanistan. The fall of Kabul appears imminent after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country Sunday. Taliban fighters entered the capital city today amid U.S. evacuations of embassy personnel. There are no reports U.S. forces have engaged any militants but gunfire was heard near Kabul airport. The embassy is urging all remaining Americans to shelter in place for now. The evacuation comes at the end of a rapid U.S. troop withdrawal ahead of the August 31st deadline set by President Biden.
UPDATED: 8/15/21 11 a.m.
The U.S. is rushing to evacuate personnel after armed Taliban fighters entered Afghanistan's capital on Sunday. U.S. forces are evacuating all staff from the American embassy in Kabul after President Biden authorized the deployment of five-thousand troops to assist. Intense negotiations are reportedly underway with the Taliban for safe passage. The evacuation comes at the end of a rapid U.S. troop withdrawal ahead of the August 31st deadline set by Biden. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told NBC's Meet the Press the president is focused on the safety and security of U.S. personnel.
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