The Pentagon said Wednesday that US troops have never rescued Americans in Afghanistan other than Kabul, but they are capable of rescuing them.
According to military officials, American soldiers have carried out only three rescue missions since the Taliban took over the country. But all three took place in Kabul, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters in Washington.
“Can we do it outside Kabul if we want? We have the ability,” he said.
“I’m not suggesting that it’s outside Kabul. I’m not suggesting that it extends to the entire countryside,” he added later. “When I say’outside Kabul’, I’m talking relatively close. I don’t want to expect to be able to fly around the country to pick people up,” he said.
Kirby said the reason the distance was so short was that the focus of the mission was on the protection of Hamid Karzai International Airport, which departs regularly with people such as Afghanistan and Americans.
When asked if the United States could allegedly help an American couple in Mazarethharif, he frankly answered “no.”
So far, three missions have been carried out. One of them is a mission to the Baron Hotel to rescue a group of 169 people who were having a hard time arriving at the airport. According to Kirby, all three were “short-term and short-distance.”
About 1,500 Americans remain in Afghanistan, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced shortly before Kirby answered a reporter’s question. U.S. officials have repeatedly stated that they hope to evacuate all Americans who want to leave the country by the August 31 deadline imposed by President Joe Biden.
“We are currently at a pace to finish by August 31st,” Biden said on Tuesday.
The Taliban, which hijacked Afghanistan in mid-August, demanded that the United States meet the deadline, or warned of “results.”
Biden met with executives at the White House on Wednesday and was pressured on what to do if Americans were still in Afghanistan after the deadline, but initially told reporters, “I will be the first person to call.” I didn’t talk before I talked to him.
The White House then guided reporters to another time when the president recently refused to answer questions.
White House spokesman Jen Psaki later said at a news conference that Biden had been briefed Wednesday morning about the crisis, including an emergency response plan in case the deadline was postponed. [delete]
“As he said yesterday, this all repeats that we have achieved our goals and are subject to continuous coordination with the Taliban,” she said.
While the US military held the airport in Kabul, the Taliban “mainly dominates the country, whether we like it or not,” Blinken said.
The United States has openly cooperated with the Taliban, which has been designated as a terrorist group by several countries.
The Taliban militants have beaten Americans many times on the streets of Kabul, but the group has not yet faced US influence as the military competes to complete the evacuation by the deadline.
Kirby admitted that the harsh treatment had at least one positive effect: the crowd trying to enter the airport was thinned.