President Joe Biden will keep the Aug. 31 deadline for evacuation of Afghanistan, an administration official said this week.
Previously, Biden had said troops may need to stay past the deadline, and a Taliban spokesman had said that the militant group would oppose the extension of the deadline, the Associated Press reports.
“If there’s American citizens left, we’re going to stay until we get them all out,” Biden told ABC News in an interview last week.
Headlines about the chaos as people try to flee Afghanistan have recently been dominating the news. Most notably, pictures have shown the turmoil around the Kabul airport.
“We need to have the top priority to tell the Taliban that we’re going to get all of our people out, regardless of what timeline was initially set,” Rep. Steve Scalise, a Louisiana Republican, asserted after White House officials said they would abide by the Taliban’s deadline.
The U.S. has increased its airlift of evacuees from Afghanistan to its highest level. Tuesday, about 21,600 people were flown out of the country. On Monday, that number was 16,000.
“We’re going to do everything we can to continue to try and deconflict and create passageways for them to get to the airfield. I don’t have the capability to go out and extend operations currently into Kabul,” U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters at the Pentagon.
“We believe we have the ability to get that done by the end of the month,” he added.
If the U.S. withdraws by the deadline, NATO partners and other countries say they will have to stop their own evacuations.
Meanwhile, two top Republican congressmen, Kevin McCarthy of the House of Representatives and Mitch McConnell of the Senate, have requested a classified briefing for a status report on the evacuation.
“It is of the utmost importance that the U.S. government account for all U.S. citizens in Afghanistan and provide the necessary information and means of departure to all those Americans who desire to leave the country,” they wrote in a letter to Biden.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Shan.shihan
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.