Videos uploaded to Twitter, from Kabul, on Sunday showed chaos at the airport as panicked people rushed to board aircraft ahead of the Taliban’s advance into Kabul.
You can hear gunfire in the background as the airport was packed with fleeing refugees.
Stefanie Glinksi tweeted, “#Kabul airport this evening. People are waiting near the runway to escape by air. #hkia #afghanistan.”
U.S. officials confirmed on Sunday afternoon that only military aircraft are flying out of the airport. US troops fired shots to try and control the chaotic crowd.
All commercial air traffic has been suspended. The Pentagon said at least 500 U.S. Embassy personnel were evacuated on Sunday but many more remain; the military hopes to ramp up to 5,000 evacuations per day within a couple of days.
The U.S. State Department said on Sunday evening that Ambassador Ross Wilson is at the Kabul airport, having been evacuated from the American embassy, but he had not yet left the country as of 6 p.m. Eastern time.
“This is manifestly not Saigon. We went into Afghanistan 20 years ago with one mission in mind, and that was to deal with the people who attacked us on 9/11, and that mission has been successful,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday.
A joint statement from the US Department of Staste on Sunday said. “Given the deteriorating security situation, we support, are working to secure, and call on all parties to respect and facilitate, the safe and orderly departure of foreign nationals and Afghans who wish to leave the country. Those in positions of power and authority across Afghanistan bear responsibility—and accountability—for the protection of human life and property, and for the immediate restoration of security and civil order.”
“Afghans and international citizens who wish to depart must be allowed to do so; roads, airports and border crossing must remain open, and calm must be maintained.”
“The Afghan people deserve to live in safety, security and dignity. We in the international community stand ready to assist them.”
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