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Chaos, loss of life at Kabul airport as Biden defends withdrawal from Afghanistan By Reuters

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© Reuters. Taliban forces patrol a avenue in Herat, Afghanistan August 14, 2021. REUTERS/Stringer

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KABUL (Reuters) -1000’s of individuals determined to flee Afghanistan thronged Kabul’s airport on Monday after the Taliban seized the capital, prompting the USA to pause evacuations a lot of the day as President Joe Biden confronted mounting criticism over the U.S. withdrawal.

Crowds converged on the airport looking for to flee, together with some who clung to a U.S. army transport airplane because it taxied on the one runway, and one individual appeared to fall from the airplane throughout takeoff, in accordance with tv footage.

U.S. troops fired within the air to discourage individuals making an attempt to pressure their method on to a army flight evacuating U.S diplomats and embassy employees, a U.S. official mentioned.

A minimum of 5 individuals have been reported killed within the chaos, which compelled a pause in evacuation flights. A witness mentioned it was unclear if they’d been shot or killed in a stampede. A U.S. official advised Reuters two gunmen had been killed by U.S. forces there over the previous 24 hours.

A Pentagon spokesperson mentioned there have been indications that one member of the U.S. army was wounded.

A German evacuation airplane diverted to the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, as a result of it couldn’t land in Kabul. One other circled over the town, though authorities mentioned late on Monday a army transport plane had landed to evacuate international nationals and Afghan employees.

U.S. authorities additionally confirmed that the airfield had been reopened and that evacuation flights had resumed.

The Taliban’s fast conquest of Kabul adopted Biden’s determination to withdraw U.S. forces after 20 years of warfare – the nation’s longest – that he described as costing greater than $1 trillion.

The pace at which Afghan cities fell, in days slightly than the months predicted by U.S. intelligence, and concern of a Taliban crackdown on freedom of speech and human rights, particularly girls’s rights, have sparked criticism.

In a televised deal with on Monday afternoon, Biden defended his determination, insisting he had needed to resolve between asking U.S. forces to struggle endlessly in what he referred to as Afghanistan’s civil warfare or observe by means of on an settlement to depart negotiated by Republican former President Donald Trump.

“I stand squarely behind my determination,” Biden mentioned. “After 20 years I’ve discovered the arduous method that there was by no means an excellent time to withdraw U.S. forces. That is why we’re nonetheless there.”

He blamed the Taliban’s takeover on Afghan political leaders who fled the nation and the Afghan military’s unwillingness to struggle.

The Democrat has confronted a barrage of criticism, from even his personal diplomats, https://www.reuters.com/world/us/we-could-have-done-more-frustration-grows-washington-over-bidens-kabul-2021-08-16 over his dealing with of the U.S. exit, pulling out troops after which sending again 1000’s to assist with the evacuation.

“Afghanistan is misplaced … each terrorist around the globe is cheering,” Republican Senate Minority Chief Mitch McConnell advised reporters in his residence state of Kentucky.

Considered one of Biden’s fellow Democrats, Senator Mark Warner, the Intelligence Committee chairman, mentioned he needed solutions about why Washington had not been higher ready for a worst-case state of affairs.

PRESIDENT FLEES

The U.N. Safety Council referred to as for talks to create a brand new authorities in Afghanistan after Secretary Normal Antonio Guterres warned of “chilling” curbs on human rights and violations in opposition to girls and ladies.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled on Sunday because the Islamist militants entered Kabul just about unopposed, saying he needed to keep away from bloodshed. His whereabouts have been unknown on Monday and the State Division declined to say whether or not it nonetheless seen him as president.

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby (NYSE:) mentioned Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin had approved the deployment of one other battalion to Kabul that might convey the variety of troops guarding the evacuation to about 6,000.

Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen mentioned on Twitter that the group’s fighters have been below strict orders to not hurt anybody.

“Life, property and honour of nobody shall be harmed however have to be protected by the mujahideen,” he mentioned.

It took the Taliban simply over per week to grab management of the entire nation after a lightning sweep as authorities forces, skilled for years and geared up by the USA and others, melted away.

U.S. officers had lengthy apprehensive that corruption would undermine the resolve of badly paid, ill-fed and erratically provided frontline troopers.

‘SAME SITUATION’

Lots of of Afghan troopers fled to Uzbekistan with 22 army planes and 24 helicopters in the course of the weekend, together with one plane that collided with an escorting Uzbek fighter jet, inflicting each to crash, Uzbekistan mentioned.

Russian Overseas Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken mentioned Afghanistan by telephone and agreed to proceed talks with China, Pakistan and the United Nations.

Pakistani Overseas Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi spoke to Blinken about Afghanistan and mentioned Pakistan would stay intently engaged with the USA and different companions to assist peace and stability in neighboring Afghanistan.

Mohammad Naeem, spokesman for the Taliban’s political workplace, advised Al Jazeera TV the type of Afghanistan’s new authorities can be made clear quickly. He mentioned the Taliban didn’t need to stay in isolation.

Many Afghans concern the Taliban will return to previous harsh practices. Throughout their 1996-2001 rule, girls couldn’t work and punishments similar to public stoning, whipping and hanging have been administered.

“So far as I’m involved, Afghanistan will grow to be a caliphate and a refuge for Islamic forces,” mentioned Andreas Eggert, state chairman of the Federal Affiliation of German Veterans, who served in Afghanistan.

“And, earlier than lengthy, we are going to see the identical state of affairs we noticed 20 years in the past.”