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Kabul airlift is accelerating, but still hindered by chaos

The U.S.-led evacuation is picking up speed at Kabul's chaotic airport. There has been a one-day doubled of the number of Americans being evacuated, but President Joe Biden does not rule out the possibility of extending the mission beyond Aug. 31, which he had set prior to the Taliban's quick takeover.

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Kabul airlift is accelerating, but still hindered by chaos

According to a White House official, approximately 10,400 Afghans were evacuated by 28 U.S. military aircraft in the 24 hour period ending Monday morning. A total of 5,900 people were also evacuated by 61 coalition aircraft. This is more than twice the number of people who were evacuated during the 24-hour period: 3,900 on U.S. military aircraft, and 3,900 on coalition planes.

Biden spoke at the White House Sunday, one week after Taliban captured Kabul. He defended his decision not to end the war, and said that it would have been difficult for all Americans to leave the country in the worst of circumstances. Critics have attacked Biden's decision to delay in organizing an evacuation. The government's sudden collapse caused panic and fear, leading to Biden being accused of a grave error of judgment.

Biden stated that the evacuation of thousands from Kabul will be difficult and painful no matter when it began or when we started. It would have been true even if it had started a month ago or a month later. It is impossible to evacuate so many people without suffering and losing the heartbreaking images that you see on TV.

Biden stated that military talks are ongoing to extend the airlift beyond August 31. He stated that while we hope not to have to extend the airlift, there are still discussions, which suggests the possibility of the Taliban being consulted.

The U.S. has assisted the evacuation of 37,000 people since Aug. 14. According to a White House official, approximately 42,000 people have been relocated since July's end.

Biden stated from the White House that "we see no reason why [this tempo] will not be maintained." According to the U.S. military, it can fly between 5,000 and more than 9,000 people from Kabul each day.

Biden stated, without providing any explanation, that U.S. forces had managed to increase access to the airport for Americans and other passengers. Biden suggested that the perimeter was being extended to create a safer zone.

He said, "What I won't do is talk about tactical changes that we're making in order to ensure we maintain as much security" "We have, how can i say it, constantly increased rational access to airport so more people can get there more safely. Although it's still dangerous, I won't go into detail about how we do that.

Later, Biden said: "We have discussed a lot avec the Taliban. They have been cooperative in extending some perimeter."

He stated that groups of Americans are being transported more safely and efficiently to Kabul's airport, but did not give details.

He stated, "Any American who wishes to go home will do so."

Administration officials stated earlier Sunday that the U.S. military was considering "creative methods" to evacuate Americans from Kabul. The Pentagon ordered six U.S.-based commercial airlines to move the evacuees to temporary locations outside of Afghanistan on Sunday.

Biden addressed a criticism that many Republicans have made. He said that no Afghan evacuees are being flown to the United States directly from Afghanistan without screening. They are being screened in other countries, he said.

Biden and his top aides repeatedly raised concerns that extremist groups from Afghanistan would attempt to exploit chaos at Kabul's airport.

Jake Sullivan, Biden's national security advisor, stated that "the threat is real, acute, persistent, and we're focused using every tool in our arsenal."

Biden's administration has not provided a firm estimate of how many Americans are seeking to flee Afghanistan. Others have put it at between 10,000-15.000. Sunday's Sullivan put the total at "several thousand."

Austin stated that as the Aug. 31 deadline to end the evacuation operation is nearing, he will suggest whether it should be extended.

Republicans in Congress have criticized Biden's response more strongly. "If the Taliban says that Americans can travel safely from the airport, then there's no better way than to use our military escort them," Republican Sen. Joni Ernst, an Army veteran, stated on ABC's "This Week."

Ryan Crocker was the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. He said that Biden's handling of the withdrawal had been "catastrophic", and caused a "global crises."

During her Singapore visit, Vice President Kamala Harris received many reminders about the Afghanistan situation. After her meeting with the prime minister of Afghanistan, she dismissed multiple questions about what had gone wrong.

Harris stated that there will be and should be an analysis of the events, but the immediate focus is on evacuating American citizens and Afghans who worked alongside us, as well as vulnerable Afghans, including children and women.

She stated, "We can't be distracted from our primary mission right now which is to evacuate people from that area who are entitled to be evacuated."

Lee Hsien Loong, Singapore's Prime Minister, offered support to the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. He said that the country understood the decision and was "grateful" for U.S. efforts in combating terrorism in the area. He also stated that Singapore would provide its Air Force aircraft to assist in the evacuation.

Processing evacuees after they have reached other countries in the region or in Europe is a major problem in an evacuation operation. Even though temporary waystations in Qatar, Bahrain, and Germany are often full, new locations are being created, including in Spain.

The Pentagon activated the Civil Reserve Air Fleet Sunday in an effort to reduce that burden and free up military aircraft to fly missions from Kabul. According to the Defense Department, 18 aircraft from American Airlines (Atlas Air, Delta Air Lines and Omni Air), Hawaiian Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, United Airlines and United Airlines were designated to ferry refugees from interim waystations. These airlines will not fly into Afghanistan. The six airlines participating in the airlift have agreed to help for less than two weeks. This roughly matches the current duration of the airlift which will end on Aug. 31.

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