President Biden told world leaders gathered virtually for a Group of 7 Nations meeting on Tuesday that he aimed – for now – to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan by the August 31 deadline, but said that there was still a possibility of extending this mission, said a senior administration official.
Military officials will begin withdrawing the 6,000 troops from Kabul as early as this week or weekend, according to a US military official, who said US forces will continue to carry out evacuation missions until the final days of the withdrawal. Then, they will have to prioritize the remaining troops and equipment, and any US citizens wishing to leave.
Officials said the military had to start relocating in the coming days in order to meet the August 31 deadline, given the logistics of moving troops and equipment. Officials said military officials could slow the departure if Biden extended the deadline.
In closed-door remarks with world leaders, Biden told his foreign counterparts that with each day that US troops remain in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, the risk intensifies. He called the danger of a terrorist attack “very high”, according to a senior administration official.
The president reiterated his desire to complete the mission on time, but said the withdrawal will depend on achieving the goal of transporting all Americans and Afghan allies out of the country to safety.
For now, the president told G-7 leaders, the mission is on track to be completed by the last day of the month. But he warned that if the Taliban don’t cooperate – on Tuesday they vowed to reject any extension of Mr Biden’s troop withdrawal deadline – that could change.
World leaders said they would urge the United States to delay its final exit from Afghanistan to ensure that all citizens of other countries can be evacuated safely.
The president and his team have said for days that Biden wondered whether the 6,000 troops securing Kabul airport should stay past the August 31 deadline to facilitate more evacuations.
Officials said they hoped it wouldn’t be necessary, but activists, lawmakers and officials from other governments have expressed skepticism that anyone seeking to flee the Taliban government will be able to do so. here the end of the month.
The Taliban warned Monday that there would be “consequences” if Mr. Biden chose to leave forces in their country beyond that date. And U.S. military and intelligence officials have warned of an increased danger of attacks by ISIS-K, an offshoot of the Islamic State in Afghanistan, and other terrorist networks.
Understanding the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan
Who are the Taliban? The Taliban emerged in 1994 amid the unrest following the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan in 1989. They used brutal public punishments, including flogging, amputations and mass executions, to enforce their rules. Here’s more on their origin story and their record as leaders.
The pace of evacuations has accelerated dramatically despite the chaos and desperation, mainly among Afghans, outside the airport. U.S. officials reported Tuesday morning that 21,600 people had been evacuated on Monday and that 58,700 people had been evacuated from the city by plane since the fall of August 14.
But Mr. Biden is at an impasse.
If he orders an extension of the mission, he risks further endangering troops and diplomats. But the Conservatives have already accused him of wanting to “block” the Americans in Afghanistan by leaving before they have all been evacuated.
This sparked a strong reaction Monday from Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary.
“I think it is irresponsible to say that Americans are stranded,” Ms Psaki said in response to a question from Fox News’ Peter Doocy. “They are not. We are committed to bringing home Americans who want to return home. We are in contact with them by phone, SMS, email, any means that allows us to reach Americans for them. bring them home if they want to go home. “