Kabul airlift accelerating but still hampered by chaos

The US-led evacuation of Americans and others from the Kabul airport helped 10,400 people. President Biden defended his recent decisions amid criticism he waited tooling to organize the evacuation.

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August 23, 2021 - 9:18 AM

Afghan people sit as they wait to leave the Kabul airport in Kabul on August 16, 2021, after a stunningly swift end to Afghanistan's 20-year war, as thousands of people mobbed the city's airport trying to flee the group's feared hardline brand of Islamist rule. (Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S.-led evacuation of Americans and others from the chaotic Kabul airport is accelerating, with a one-day doubling of the number airlifted out of the country, although President Joe Biden is not ruling out extending the mission beyond the Aug. 31 deadline he set before the Taliban’s swift takeover.

Over the 24 hours that ended early morning Monday, 28 U.S. military flights evacuated approximately 10,400 people from Kabul, according to a White House official. In addition, 61 coalition aircraft evacuated approximately 5,900 people. Combined, that is more than double the number airlifted in the previous 24-hour period — 3,900 aboard U.S. military aircraft and 3,900 aboard coalition planes.

In remarks at the White House on Sunday, one week after the Taliban completed their victory by capturing Kabul, Biden defended his decision to end the war and insisted that getting all Americans out of the country would have been difficult in the best of circumstances. Critics have blasted Biden for a grave error in judgment by waiting too long to begin organizing an evacuation, which became captive to the fear and panic set off by the government’s sudden collapse.

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