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Croatia welcomes 19 Afghans fleeing Taliban

Croatian police claim that 19 Afghan citizens who fled their country due to the Taliban threat have arrived in Croatia.

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Croatia welcomes 19 Afghans fleeing Taliban

According to police, the group arrived Saturday night with three families and one man.

According to police, the evacuees were people who have ties to Kabul's European Union delegation and their families. They also expressed an intention to seek asylum in Croatia.

Because they are minors, they will be accommodated in a camp that is for vulnerable people. Other details are not immediately available.

WASHINGTON -- President Joe Biden stated that a drone strike against an Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan would not be his final response to the group's attack on U.S troops and civilians living near Kabul's airport.

Biden stated in a statement that he had discussed the strike with top military commanders. They briefed him about the ongoing evacuation of Afghans from the airport. The evacuation is scheduled to end on Tuesday.

According to the president, commanders had told him that an attack was "highly likely" within the next 24-36 hours.

Two IS members were killed in the drone strike in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday morning. Another IS member was also injured.

Biden stated that he had promised to pursue the terrorist group responsible for attacking our troops in Kabul and innocent civilians. "We will continue to pursue any person responsible for that horrible attack and make them accountable."


BERLIN -- Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, has met with Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, and Mark Rutte the Dutch Prime Minister to discuss Afghanistan's situation and the status of the evacuation plans.

Merkel's office stated that the three leaders were in agreement on Saturday that the priority of evacuating citizens and local workers, as well as humanitarian aid to refugees and the local population, was "continued to be a top priorit"

Steffen Seibert, spokesperson for Merkel, stated that Merkel had discussed security concerns with Rutte and Johnson and also talked about possible diplomatic and political options.


PARIS -- France has held talks with Qatar and the Taliban to discuss the possibility of evacuating Afghans who are on France's evacuation list but were unable to leave Kabul after France closed down operations there the night before.

Emmanuel Macron, the French president, said that the talks on Saturday were "fragile and very provisional." This was during the first day of a two-day trip to Iraq. At a French-organized regional summit on Iraq, the emir of Qatar was one of the leaders.

Macron stated that France could proceed with targeted evacuation operations for the men and women that it identified in the coming days, weeks, months. He didn't elaborate further. Macron suggested that airlines could be used, but with security conditions that are still to be determined.

These operations would be carried out in a "different context" to the US-led mass evacuations. The United States is due to withdraw from Kabul on Tuesday. France flew its last flight out on Friday.

France envisions that the operations would be "systematically negotiated" with the Taliban, in particular regarding the security aspect.

Macron also stated three "essential prerequisites," for any future discussions with the Taliban. These include that they "absolutely" respect humanitarian rights and Afghans who wish to flee to seek protection, as well as the right to artists, intellectuals and journalists. He stated that the Taliban must respect the "red line" for all terrorist groups as well as human rights, including the dignity of women.

Friday's evacuation of the French ambassador in Kabul meant that he was unable to continue his work in Paris.

France has evacuated approximately 2,830 people since mid-August. This was after it pulled out 630 personnel in spring and their families on 15 flights. France had previously accepted 830 Afghan soldiers as part of its withdrawal from Afghanistan at 2014's end.


WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon released the names and addresses of the 13 American servicemen who were killed in the suicide bombing at Kabul's airport.

The victims include 11 Marines and one Navy sailor, who were assigned to a Marine Corps unit. They also include an Army Special Forces soldier. The Islamic State group's Afghanistan affiliate claimed their deaths, killing at least 170 Afghans.

The 11 Marines are Staff Sergeant. Darin T.Hoover, 31, Salt Lake City, Utah; Staff Sgt. Johanny Rosariopichardo (25), Lawrence, Massachusetts; Cpl. Nicole L. Gee (23), Sacramento, California; Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22, Indio, California; CPl. Daegan W. Page (23), Omaha, Nebraska; Lance Cpl. Humberto A. Sanchez (22), Logansport, Indiana; Lance Cpl. David L. Espinoza (20), Rio Bravo, Texas; Lance Cpl. Jared M. Schmitz (20), St. Charles, Missouri; Lance Cpl. Rylee J. McCCollum, 20, Jackson, Wyoming; Lance Cpl. Dylan R. Merola (20), Rancho Cucamonga (California) and Lance Cpl. Kareem M. Nikuui, 20 years old, Norco, California. Maxton W. Soviak (Navy Hospitalman), 22, from Berlin Heights, Ohio and Army Staff Sergeant. Ryan C. Knauss (23), Corryton, Tennessee

According to the Pentagon, their remains would be flown to America on Saturday.


ISTANBUL -- Turkish media reports that an Afghan evacuation flight has landed in Britain with an additional passenger after a cabin crew gave birth to a baby girl midair.

Demiroren News Agency reported that 26-year-old Afghan Soman Norori gave birth at 30,000 feet after his traditional cry "Is there any doctor on the flight?" was unanswered.

Soman and her husband were evacuated from Kabul, United Arab Emirates to Dubai, United Arab Emirates. They then flew to Birmingham.

Crew members were able to deliver Soman's third child shortly after the plane took off Friday night.

As a precaution, the flight landed in Kuwait. Mother and baby were both deemed fit enough to continue to the U.K.

The baby girl was named Havva in English, which translated to Eve.


LONDON -- The U.K.'s last evacuation flight for Afghan nationals is now out of Kabul, according to Britain's defense ministry. The ambassador of Afghanistan announced that it was "time to end this phase."

According to the U.K. military, further flights will be made over the weekend to bring back British troops and diplomats. However, they could also transport some U.K. civilians.

British ambassador to Afghanistan Laurie Bristow stated from Kabul airport that it was time to end this phase of operations.

He said, "But we haven’t forgotten the people still need to go," in a Twitter video. We will continue to do all we can to assist them. We have not forgotten about the Afghan people, who are brave and decent. They are entitled to live in security and peace.


KABUL (Afghanistan) -- Taliban have increased their presence at Kabul's airport in an effort to stop large crowds forming after the suicide attack that killed two days earlier.

The U.S.-led massive airlift is coming to an end ahead of the Aug. 31 deadline. Many allies have completed their operations.

On Saturday, the Taliban set up additional checkpoints along roads leading to the airport. Some were manned by uniformed fighters armed with Humvees or night-vision goggles that they had seized from Afghan security forces.

Large crowds that gathered in large numbers for the past two week were mostly gone from areas. An Islamic State affiliate committed suicide Thursday, killing 169 Afghans and thirteen U.S. service personnel. There are fears that the group may strike again.


KABUL (Afghanistan) -- Hundreds of Afghans protest outside a Kabul bank as they wait in long lines for cash machines.

Many civil servants demanded their salaries at New Kabul Bank on Saturday. They claimed that they had not received their wages for the past three to six month.

According to them, no one was able withdraw cash even though banks were reopened three days earlier. ATMs still work, but withdrawals are limited at $200 per 24 hours. This contributes to long lines.

A U.N. agency warns that an increasing drought could lead to millions of people in dire need of humanitarian assistance.

As the West pushes Afghanistan's new rulers for inclusion and allowing people to flee after the planned withdrawal by all U.S. troops on August 31, they could gain leverage from the economic crisis.


ROME -- A NATO diplomat who coordinated evacuations at Kabul airport said that the organization would do its best to rescue those who were not able to evacuate.

Stefano Pontecorvo spoke with reporters in Rome's main terminal Saturday morning, shortly after he had disembarked from the plane of the Italian Air Force that conducted Italy's last evacuation of Afghan civilians.

Pontecorvo is NATO's top civilian representative to Afghanistan. He stated that "we crossed the line between impossible and possible to get in (to an airport)."

Pontecorvo stated that he was not satisfied because he left some behind. We are not abandoning them, but we will do our best to get them to safety.

Pontecorvo spoke out about Thursday's attack by Islamic State outside the airport perimeter. He also praised the "generousness of the servicemen who, under threat, went up to the gate to pull family after family inside the facility."

He spoke of the 13 U.S. Military personnel who lost their lives, and said that "even having lost in this way 12 brothers, and one sister (the U.S military) had the runway and all other things back running so we could get people outside."


TEHRAN (Iran) -- Iran's supreme leadership has called the current situation in Afghanistan a tragedy, and blamed America for it.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in his first official meeting to Ebrahim Raisi’s Cabinet on Saturday, stated that "the tragedies of Afghanistan (and were) deeply affecting human beings"

He said, "The hardships they are experiencing, the incidents that occur, Thursday's incident and such killings all by America."

Many people are still gathering at Kabul's airport in the hope of fleeing Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover. This is despite the suicide attack that killed 169 Afghans and 13 U.S. military personnel on Thursday and warnings of further attacks. The U.S. is closing in on a massive airlift.

Khamenei stated that the Americans "occupied" Afghanistan for twenty years.


LONDON -- Britain has begun to send its troops home from Afghanistan after the country's evacuation at Kabul airport is over.

On Saturday morning, a Royal Air Force plane carrying soldiers landed at RAF Brize Norton near London. They are part of a contingent that numbers 1,000 and has been stationed in Kabul to support the airlift.

Although most flights bringing U.K. citizens or Afghans to the UK have ended, the head of the Armed Forces, Gen. Nick Carter said that there would be "very few" more on Saturday.

Britain claims it has evacuated more 14500 Kabul residents in the last two weeks. However, as many as 1,000 Afghans who are entitled to travel to the U.K. were left behind.

Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, promised Friday that he would "shift heaven and Earth" in order to bring more Afghans to Britain via other means. However, no specific details have been provided.


ROME -- Italy's last evacuation flight of Afghan refugees has landed at Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci Airport.

The Italian Air Force C-130J carrying 58 Afghan citizens arrived Saturday morning after departing from Kabul's airport. It was there for 17 hours.

Italy's consul and NATO diplomat were also present. They had coordinated evacuations from Kabul airport.

Luigi Di Maio, the Italian Foreign Minister, stated that Italy is ready to cooperate with the United Nations as well as with Afghanistan's bordering countries in what he called the "more difficult phase."

He explained that this was a result of efforts to evacuate Afghan citizens who had worked with the Italian military in Afghanistan for 20 years but were unable to travel to Kabul in time to board evacuation flights. He did not say how many were still eligible for evacuation to Italy.

In a short statement made at Rome's airport, Di Maio stated that rescuing these citizens would give them "the same opportunity" to start a new life. He stated that the 4,890 Afghans who were evacuated by Italy’s air force in just 87 flights was the largest number of European Union nations.

The remaining soldiers of Italy left Kabul on Friday night on a separate flight. The troops will be returning to Italy next week after the air force flight took off for Kuwait.


ROME -- The U.N. warns that the worsening drought in Afghanistan is threatening the livelihoods and well-being of over 7 million people.

Saturday's appeal by the FAO (Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization) for humanitarian assistance was made by FAO. The economic impact of COVID-19, as well as widespread displacement of Afghans in the midst of enduring conflict, add to the "severe drought" situation.

The U.N. World Food Program, another Rome-based agency estimated earlier this month that approximately 14 million people, or roughly one third of all Afghans, urgently needed food assistance.

FAO stated that crucial assistance is required ahead of winter wheat planting season. This season begins in less than a month in many regions.

Richard Trenchard from FAO, the FAO representative in Afghanistan, stated in a statement that disaster looms if there isn't enough help for next winter wheat season.


WASHINGTON -- The United States military attacked the Islamic State Saturday by bombing an IS member in Afghanistan, less than 48 hours following a suicide bombing that claimed the lives of 169 Afghans.

U.S. Central Command stated that the U.S. carried out a drone strike on an Islamic State member from Nangarhar who was believed to have been involved in plotting attacks against the U.S.A in Kabul. One person was killed in the strike, according to Navy Capt. William Urban stated that they did not know of any civilian casualties.

It was not clear whether that person was specifically involved in the suicide attack at Kabul's airport on Thursday. Crowds of Afghans desperately tried to get in as part the ongoing evacuation of Afghanistan following the Taliban's quick takeover.

President Joe Biden promised Thursday that the attackers would not be allowed to hide after the airstrike. He said, "We will hunt down you and make you pay." Pentagon officials told reporters on Friday that they are ready for any retaliatory action ordered by the president.

"We have options right now," stated Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor, of the Pentagon's Joint Staff.

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