Afghanistan updates: ‘Still time’ for American evacuations in final hours: Pentagon


(KABUL, Afghanistan) — Chaos has enveloped Kabul after Afghanistan’s government collapsed and the Taliban seized control, all but ending America’s 20-year campaign as it began: under Taliban rule.

Officials said the terror group ISIS-K carried out what the Pentagon called a “complex attack” outside the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on Thursday, killing at least 13 American service members and wounding 20, among scores of Afghan casualties.

When President Joe Biden sat down with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos for an exclusive one-on-one interview at the White House last week, the president’s first interview since the withdrawal from Afghanistan, he warned of the threat of attacks on the ground.

Here are the latest developments. All times Eastern:

Aug 30, 12:20 pm

Final hours of US troop withdrawal ‘particularly dangerous time’

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said “the threat remains high, and it remains real” outside Karzai International Airport airport in Kabul as the U.S. military faces its final hours ahead of President Biden’s Aug. 31 deadline for a full military withdrawal. He said threats were “active and in many cases still specific.”

“Non-combat evacuation operations are dangerous, period,” Kirby said. “The end of them, particularly one in that, in an environment that we can’t consider, clearly cannot consider permissive, are particularly dangerous.”

“We are in a particularly dangerous time now,” he added. “Not that it hasn’t always been dangerous, but it is particularly dangerous now.”

Kirby repeatedly declined to provide specific details about the withdrawal’s final hours but did say the military had the ability to evacuate people “until the very end.”

He said “yes” he was sure all troops would be out by the deadline but declined to say exactly what time the deadline would be — whether it was Kabul time, or otherwise.

He also wouldn’t say whether the U.S. planned to leave behind the U.S. military’s anti-projectile C-RAM defense system.

“Commanders are in-flowing and out-flowing those requirements needed to complete the mission,” he said.

Aug 30, 10:31 am

ISIS-K claims rocket strike on Kabul airport: SITE

ISIS-K has claimed responsibility for the attack that targeted Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul with six Katyusha rockets on Sunday, according to a communique issued by ISIS-K on Monday and translated by SITE Intelligence Group.

ISIS-K claimed the rocket landed with “direct hits.”

The message comes just before nightfall in Kabul and one day before Biden’s Aug. 31 military withdrawal deadline from Afghanistan. 

A U.S. official confirmed to ABC News late Sunday that it appeared that as many as five rockets were fired toward the airport in Kabul. There were no signs of casualties at the time, and White House press secretary Jen Psaki issued a statement early Monday stressing that U.S. operations would continue uninterrupted.

ISIS-K also claimed responsibility for last week’s suicide bomber attack outside the airport which left 13 U.S. service members and 169 Afghans dead.

Over the weekend, the U.S. struck two ISIS-K targets in Afghanistan, including a person believed to be planning future attacks. An Afghan health official reported that in one of those strikes, six Afghan civilians were also killed, including four children.

Aug 30, 7:59 am
US, allies evacuate 1,250 people from Kabul in past 24 hours

The United States has evacuated and facilitated the evacuation of some 116,700 people from Kabul since Aug. 14, when the Taliban closed in on Afghanistan’s capital, according to a White House official.

In a 24-hour period from Sunday to Monday, 26 U.S. military flights carried approximately 1,200 evacuees out of Kabul. Another 50 people were evacuated via two coalition aircraft. During the previous 24-hour period, about 2,900 people were evacuated.

Since the end of July, approximately 122,300 people have been relocated from Kabul via U.S. military and coalition flights, the White House official said.

Aug 30, 7:23 am
Americans are not being turned away at Kabul airport, ambassador says

The evacuation effort in Kabul remains a “high-risk operation,” according to Ross Wilson, the acting U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan. But he denied that Americans are being turned away by U.S. forces or embassy personnel at Hamid Karzai International Airport.

“This is a high-risk operation,” Wilson wrote on Twitter early Monday. “Claims that American citizens have been turned away or denied access to HKIA by Embassy staff or US Forces are false.”

Several Republican lawmakers and other critics have accused the Biden administration of refusing to admit U.S. citizens at the airport in Kabul and leaving them behind.

The U.S. Department of State said Sunday that 250 Americans were still seeking to get out of Afghanistan. They have been given specific instructions on when or how to enter Hamid Karzai International Airport, although that journey is still fraught and dangerous. All airport gates are closed and the security threat there remains high.

Aug 30, 1:16 am
US anti-missile system fired to intercept rockets at Kabul airport

There are no signs of casualties Sunday night after five rockets were fired toward Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, a U.S. official told ABC News.

The official said the U.S. military’s anti-projectile C-RAM fired to intercept the incoming rockets, though it is not yet clear how many it took out, if any.

The airport remains operational and flights are continuing, the official added.

Aug 30, 1:16 am
Multiple rockets fired in attack on Kabul airport

As many as five rockets were fired toward Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul Sunday evening, a U.S. official confirms to ABC News.

ABC News is still trying to assess whether there were any casualties inside the airport, whether the airport’s defensive counter rocket, artillery, and mortar system was used, and if there were any U.S. counter strikes against suspected launch positions.

Aug 29, 8:55 pm
Former acting FEMA administrator to lead Afghan refugee resettlement

Bob Fenton, the former acting Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator, is set to lead the efforts to resettle Afghans who are coming to the U.S., the Department of Homeland Security said Sunday.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas chose Fenton after President Joe Biden tasked the agency to lead the federal coordinating efforts.

The Department of Homeland Security said in a statement the resettling group will report directly to Mayorkas and will include a plethora of services from immigration processing to COVID-19 testing.

“The Department of Homeland Security is prepared to serve as the lead federal agency coordinating efforts across the federal government to welcome vulnerable Afghans to our Nation in a way that is consistent with our laws and our values,” Mayorkas said in a statement.

The “Unified Coordination Group” will work with Homeland Security’s partners in state and local governments, non-governmental organizations and the private sector.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.