Joe Biden, the president of the United States, said there is an “acute” risk of an attack by a terrorist group known as ISIS-K, the ISIS affiliate operating in Afghanistan, and that every day that American troops stay in the war-torn country the risk increases.
“The sooner we can finish, the better,” Biden said of the plan to evacuate Americans, Afghan nationals and US troops from Kabul in light of the Taliban’s takeover of the capital. “Each day of operations brings added risk to our troops.”
Biden also said the US is on “a pace” to complete its evacuation mission in Afghanistan by August 31 and doesn’t plan to have troops in the country past that date.
“But the completion by August 31 depends upon the Taliban continuing to cooperate and allow access to the airport for those who we’re transporting out with no disruptions to our operation” the Democratic President whose administration has been under fire for its handling of the pullout, said at the White House on Tuesday (August 24). In remarks updating the American people on the situation, he added Washington has evacuated 70,700 people from Aghanistan since 14 August.
The Taliban said earlier on Tuesday that all foreign evacuations from the country must be completed by August 31. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid also told Washington to stop taking “Afghan experts,” such as engineers and doctors, out of the country. “This country needs their expertise. They should not be taken to other countries,” Mujahid told a press conference in Kabul.
The leaders of the G7 countries -Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States- met virtually on Tuesday to discuss how to complete the chaotic withdrawal and deal with the Taliban.
Biden’s foreign counterparts had entered G7 countries meeting prepared to apply pressure on Biden to delay the final date for the end of the mission, arguing more time is needed to evacuate their citizens and at-risk Afghans who assisted in the war effort. But aware of the risks that will confront American troops in September, Biden decided to keep the scheduled date of August 31 unchanged, unless the Taliban stopped cooperating.
The G7 countries stated that Afghanistan mustn’t become a “safe haven” for terrorist organizations and cannot be used as a launching pad for attacks on other countries. The group of the seven major industrialized nations also reiterated previous statements by Biden that any Afghan government must ensure its adherence to international law.
With reporting by Reuters, CNN, Al Jazeera, The New York Times