President Biden said Wednesday that U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan until all Americans who want to get out of the country have been evacuated, even if it means staying beyond the Aug. 31 deadline set for the withdrawal of forces.
“If there’s American citizens left, we’re going to stay until we get them all out,” Biden told ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos in an interview.
Biden’s commitment comes as government officials have estimated there are more than 10,000 Americans still in Afghanistan as the U.S. drawdown nears its completion.
The president vowed that the government will do “everything in our power to get all Americans out and our allies out,” but acknowledged doing so by the end of the month would require significantly increasing the number of individuals evacuated on flights each day.
“Are you committed to making sure that the troops stay until every American who wants to be out is out?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“Yes,” Biden responded.
The president estimated there are between 50,000 and 65,000 Afghan allies, including family members, who are also waiting to be evacuated. That process has been slowed by paperwork issues and logistical barriers getting those individuals safely to the Kabul airport to be evacuated either to the U.S. or third-party countries.
“Americans should understand that we’re going to try to get it done before Aug. 31,” Biden said when asked about the prospect of troops remaining in Afghanistan beyond that deadline.
— GeorgeStephanopoulos (@GStephanopoulos) August 18, 2021
Biden has come under enormous pressure to get U.S. personnel and Afghan allies out of the country after the Taliban took control of the capital city of Kabul following the withdrawal of U.S. forces.
The U.S. has attempted to surge the number of flights out of the country in an effort to evacuate some 5,000 to 9,000 people per day. But the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan on Wednesday said it “cannot guarantee safe passage” to the Kabul airport, complicating efforts to do so.
Via The Hill