(Add quotes from Pentagon spokesperson)
By Idrees Ali and David Brunnstrom
WASHINGTON, Aug. 25 (Reuters) – The US military will continue to evacuate people from Kabul airport until August 31 if necessary, but will prioritize the withdrawal of US troops and military equipment in the last two days, the Pentagon announced Wednesday. .
There are about 5,400 troops at the airport, a number that President Joe Biden says is expected to drop to zero by the end of the month, according to Taliban cooperation.
Army Maj. Gen. William Taylor, with the United States Army Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a press briefing that more than 10,000 people were at Kabul airport waiting for ‘be evacuated from Afghanistan.
He said that in the past 24 hours, 90 US military and other international flights have evacuated an additional 19,000 people, bringing the total number of evacuations so far to around 88,000. He said one plane had evacuated take off every 39 minutes.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said a total of 4,400 U.S. nationals had so far been evacuated from Kabul, but he did not know how many were still there. Over the weekend, the number rose to around 2,500.
“If you are an evacuee that we can get out of, we’ll continue to get you out until the end… But over the last couple of days… we’ll start to prioritize military capabilities and military resources to relocate,” Kirby said.
In addition to US citizens, Afghans at risk and people from other countries like Canada and Germany have been evacuated in the past 11 days.
Representatives Seth Moulton, a Democrat, and Peter Meijer, a Republican, both of whom served in the Iraq war before running for Congress, said in a statement Tuesday that they had traveled to Kabul to gather information. information as part of the oversight role of Congress.
Kirby said the two members of the US House of Representatives who visited Afghanistan on Tuesday used limited resources.
“They certainly took a long time compared to what we planned to do that day,” he added. (Reporting by Idrees Ali and David Brunnstrom; editing by Howard Goller)