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Afghan evacuees queue before boarding Italy's military aircraft C130J during evacuation at Kabul's airport, Afghanistan, 22 August 2021. Italian Ministry of Defence/Handout via REUTERS  - Sputnik International

Live Updates: US Evacuation Operations in Kabul Won't End in 36 Hours, Pentagon Says

Following a weeks-long offensive launched after the US started withdrawing forces from Afghanistan, the Taliban* entered Kabul on 15 August, causing the civilian government to collapse.
Western states continue to evacuate their citizens and allied Afghans by air  from Kabul as the Taliban has said they will not allow departures  after 31 August but pledged safety to all those currently trying to leave the country.
The Biden administration set 31 August as the deadline to evacuate all US citizens, Afghan allies and military personnel from Afghanistan. The Western powers convened an urgent G7 meeting to address the handling of evacuations, with media reporting that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson had sought to pressure the US President into extending the deadline, but failed.
The takeover of Kabul by the terrorist group on 15 August prompted unrest at the airport, where evacuation flights are taking place.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country to prevent what he described as bloodshed that would occur if militants were allowed to storm the city. 
Follow Sputnik’s feed to find out more.      
*The Taliban is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia and many other nations.
Table of contents
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03:43 GMT 27.08.2021

The Taliban will tighten security in the Hamid Karzai International airport and add more forces to manage the crowd at the gates of the airport, Reuters reported Thursday, citing a NATO diplomat.

All foreign forces were also said to be aiming to evacuate their citizens and embassy employees by 30 August.

02:43 GMT 27.08.2021

At Least 28 of the 60 Afghan nationals that were killed during the Kabul bombing on Thursday were Taliban members, Reuters reported, citing a Taliban official.

"We have lost more people than the Americans", said the unnamed official, also noting that there was no reason to extend the 31 August deadline for foreign troops withdrawal from Afghanistan.

00:58 GMT 27.08.2021

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The death from a series of terrorist attacks in the Afghan capital of Kabul has reached 103 people, media reported.

The explosions left at least 90 Afghan civilians dead, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing a senior Afghan health official. The Pentagon has earlier confirmed the death of 13 servicemen.

23:02 GMT 26.08.2021

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The US Department of Defense spokesperson confirmed the death toll of US service members killed in attacks near the Kabul airport has increased from 12 to 13.

"I can confirm that subsequent to Gen. McKenzie's remarks, a thirteenth US service member has died from his wounds suffered as a result of the attack on Abbey Gate," the spokesperson said on Thursday. "The latest number of injured is now 18."

The injured US service members are in the process of being evacuated in C-17 aircraft equipped with surgical units.

22:09 GMT 26.08.2021

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The US flag will be flown at half-mast until the evening of August 30 to honor the victims killed in the terrorist attacks in Kabul, Afghanistan, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said.

Earlier on Thursday, bomb attacks at the Kabul airport killed 12 US troops and injured an additional 15 service members as well as numerous Afghan civilians.

"As a mark for respect, starting today, the United States flag will be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds… until sunset on August 30, 2021, in honor of the victims of the senseless acts of violence in Kabul," Psaki said during a press briefing on Thursday.

21:17 GMT 26.08.2021

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - At least 90 people have been killed by a series of terrorist attacks in the Afghan capital of Kabul, the CBS broadcaster reported, citing the Afghan Ministry of Health.

In turn, Al-Arabiya broadcaster reported at least 72 fatalities and 158 injured people, citing US and Afghan officials.

21:09 GMT 26.08.2021
20:43 GMT 26.08.2021

BERLIN (Sputnik) - German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas announced the next phase of the evacuation from Kabul on Thursday evening, hours after the armed forces shut the airlift down.

"Our work will continue until all those in Afghanistan who are our responsibility are safe. That's why our rescue operation is entering a new phase," he told a news conference.

Maas estimated that more than 5,300 people were airlifted from Afghanistan since Monday last week. The last military jets carried German troops and diplomats to the Uzbek capital Tashkent on Thursday.

"We are working intensively to create new opportunities for departure — either on civil aircraft or by land to neighboring countries," he explained.

Maas will travel to the region on Sunday to secure help from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Qatar and Turkey. He said German embassies were instructed to assist Afghans cleared for relocation to Germany on their journey.

20:28 GMT 26.08.2021

A spokesperson for the Taliban terrorist group, Zabiullah Mujahid, said on Thursday that recent explosions heard in the area of the Kabul airport were carried out by the US forces in order to "destroy their equipment".

20:14 GMT 26.08.2021
20:05 GMT 26.08.2021

LONDON (Sputnik) - The US and UK military will continue to strive to evacuate as many people as possible from Afghanistan, despite the recent bombings in Kabul, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Thursday.

"The UK and US remain resolute in our mission to get as many people out as possible. It is testament to the remarkable courage of our personnel that they continue to do so while under fire. We will not let the cowardly acts of terrorists stop us," Raab said following a phone conversation with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Raab said that he had expressed condolences to Blinken in connection with the death of the US military in the explosions that occurred in the area of ​​the Kabul airport. He also expressed condolences to the families of Afghans who were injured and killed in the attacks.

"Today’s attack is a stark reminder of the dangerous situation in which UK military and civilian personnel have been working so hard to evacuate people and we should be proud of their bravery and what they have achieved," he added.

19:52 GMT 26.08.2021

Ex-president Donald Trump issued a statement on Thursday, sending his condolences to the families of "our brilliant and brave Service Members", along with the civilians who were affected in the "savage Kabul attack".

“This tragedy should never have been allowed to happen, which makes our grief even deeper and more difficult to understand", Trump said.

19:48 GMT 26.08.2021
19:48 GMT 26.08.2021

LONDON (Sputnik) - The UK Foreign Office reported a high threat of terrorist attacks in Afghanistan and recommended immediately leaving the area of ​​the Kabul International Airport, where the explosions had previously occurred.

"On 26 August there were reports of explosions in the vicinity of Kabul International Airport outside the Abbey gate and at a nearby hotel. The security situation in Afghanistan remains extremely volatile. There is an ongoing and high threat of terrorist attack. Do not travel to Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport. If you are in the area of the airport, move away to a safe location immediately and await further advice," the statement says.

19:45 GMT 26.08.2021

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The United States is sharing information on terror threats in Afghanistan with the Taliban (terrorist group, banned in Russia) and that they may have thwarted some attacks, US CENTCOM Commander Kenneth McKenzie said on Thursday.

"We share versions of this information [on terrorist threats] with the Taliban so that they actually make searches...  We think they've thwarted some," he told journalists at a briefing.

19:40 GMT 26.08.2021

US CENTCOM Commander Kenneth McKenzie said Thursday that the threat to the US forces, "particularly from ISIS-K, is very real, as we have seen today."

19:34 GMT 26.08.2021

Some 5,000 evacuees are currently awaiting airlift in Afghanistan, with the US having evacuated over 66,000 people, and some 37,000 evacuated by the allies, US CENTCOM Commander Kenneth McKenzie said Thursday.

19:01 GMT 26.08.2021
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby speaks during a briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, Friday, April 9, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920
Pentagon Spokesman Briefs Media on Kabul Airport Explosions
18:57 GMT 26.08.2021
18:53 GMT 26.08.2021

The death count of US service members in the wake of the attacks near the Kabul airport has increased to 12, Fox News reported on Thursday.

"At least 12 U.S. service members killed in suicide attack outside Kabul airport; 11 Marines, Navy medic, dozens wounded," Fox News reporter Lucas Tomlinson said in a tweet.

The broadcaster said 11 US Marines and a Navy medic were killed in two explosions and many others were injured.

18:52 GMT 26.08.2021

No one was injured and no property was damaged in the explosion at The Baron hotel near the Kabul airport, the owner said.

"As the owner of The Baron Hotel Kabul, I confirm there are no casualties or damage to the property inside. The explosion was outside the hotel & I regret the loss of innocent lives," Mumtaz Muslim tweeted.

According to media reports, The Baron Hotel served as a gathering point for British and American citizens planning to evacuate from Kabul.

At least three blasts occurred at Kabul airport on Thursday evening, one of them near The Baron. Dozens have been killed and hundreds injured.

18:18 GMT 26.08.2021

At least 60 Afghans were killed and 150 injured in explosions at the Kabul airport, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing a source in Afghan Health Ministry.

Earlier in the day, a source in the ministry said that more than 40 people had been killed and over 100 injured in the explosions.

18:16 GMT 26.08.2021

The Taliban (designated terrorist and banned in Russia) said on Thursday that the explosions at the Kabul airport were terrorist attacks, which should be condemned globally.

At least three blasts occurred at Kabul airport on Thursday evening. The toll of casualties counts dozens killed and hundreds injured.

"Attacks on innocent civilians are an act of terrorism that must be condemned by the whole world," Abdul Qahar Balkhi, a spokesman for the radical group, told Turkey's Haberturk TV, vowing that "once the situation at the airport returns to normal and foreign troops leave Afghanistan, there will be no more attacks like this."

Afghan President Hamid Karzai also decried the attacks as a crime against humanity, calling on Afghans for solidarity and unity.

After the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan on 15 August, many countries began evacuating their citizens, diplomats and Afghans who had worked for them. Foreign troops are under pressure to wrap up evacuation by 31 August, as the Taliban warned they would not allow departures after that date.

18:14 GMT 26.08.2021

At least 10 US troops were killed in an explosion near the Kabul airport, Fox News reported on Thursday.

"At least 10 U.S. service members killed in a suicide bombing outside Kabul airport, dozens wounded," Fox News reporter Lucas Tomlinson tweeted, citing US officials.

Earlier in the day, two deadly explosions hit Kabul, one of them near a hotel used by the US as a gathering place for civilians to be evacuated. More than 60 Afghan civilians were killed in the attack as well.

18:10 GMT 26.08.2021
An overview of the Abbey Gate at Hamid Karzai International Airport, in Kabul, Afghanistan August 23, 2021, in this satellite image obtained by Reuters on August 26, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920
New Round of Explosions Sound Off as US Warns of 'Extremely Active Threats' Against Kabul Airport
17:51 GMT 26.08.2021
17:45 GMT 26.08.2021

The Taliban movement (banned and recognised as terrorist in Russia) strongly condemns the explosions at the Kabul airport, measures will be taken against malicious groups, spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said.

"The Islamic Emirate [the self-designation of the radical movement] strongly condemns the attack on civilians at the Kabul airport, which took place in an area where security is controlled by US forces," Mujahid said on Twitter.

He noted that the movement paid close attention to issues of security and protection of the people, and the activities of malicious organizations "will be strictly suppressed."

17:37 GMT 26.08.2021

The last plane of the Bundeswehr (German Armed Forces) left the airspace of Afghanistan, the military evacuation operation has been completed, the German Defense Ministry said on Thursday.

"The last [aircraft] A400M of the Bundeswehr left the airspace of Afghanistan, it departed from Kabul at 18.20. The military evacuation operation has been completed," the ministry said on Twitter.

The ministry noted that the protection of German servicemen was "a priority", they all went home safely.

Today's attacks in Kabul indicated that the continuation of the evacuation operation is impossible, German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told reporters in Berlin.

"In my mind, I am with those who, after our last departure from Kabul, are in Afghanistan and Kabul. For them, the collapse of this air bridge is of great concern. Therefore, after the end of the military evacuation, we continue to bear responsibility. The attacks that we saw tonight, which I warned about in recent days and this morning, clearly indicated that the extension of the operation in Kabul was not possible. The level of security in place and the decision of the Taliban [recognized as terrorist and banned in Russia] to refuse to continue [evacuation] after August 31 made this impossible," Kramp-Karrenbauer said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said earlier that Germany would continue negotiations with the Taliban in order to evacuate people from Afghanistan.

17:36 GMT 26.08.2021

Kazakhstan gives an opportunity to refuel transport aircraft at its airports to evacuate EU citizens from Afghanistan, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said in a phone conversation with European Council President Charles Michel on Thursday.

According to Tokayev's office, the politicians thoroughly discussed the current situation in Afghanistan. Tokayev, at Michel's request, briefed him in detail about Kazakhstan's position on the Afghan problem.

"The head of state believes that Kazakhstan and the EU could closely interact with each other on the Afghan agenda, including in Afghanistan itself. Kazakhstan has provided an opportunity to refuel transport aircraft at its airports to evacuate citizens of EU countries," Tokayev's office said in a statement.

17:17 GMT 26.08.2021
17:14 GMT 26.08.2021

At least four US Marines were killed in the attacks near the Kabul airport and another three were wounded, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing a US official.

The US ambassador in Afghanistan informed his staff that the explosion killed four marines and left three others wounded, the report said, citing an official with knowledge of the briefing.

Fox News has confirmed the report, citing US officials.

16:38 GMT 26.08.2021

More than 40 people were killed and over 100 injured in explosions near the Kabul airport, a source in the Afghan Health Ministry said.

According to the source, the bodies of the dead and injured were taken to hospitals, there are women and children among those affected.

Two explosions occurred on Thursday near the Kabul airport, one of them near the Baron Hotel, where, according to media reports, foreigners, including UK and US citizens, gathered. The first one was perpetrated by a suicide bomber, then a car bomb exploded. There were no Russians at the time of the explosion at the airport, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

16:29 GMT 26.08.2021

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps advised on Thursday that airlines avoid Afghan airspace under 25,000 feet (7,600 meters), following deadly blasts outside Kabul’s airport.

"Following the shocking scenes in Afghanistan today, I have issued a NOTAM (Notice to Aviation) further advising airlines to avoid Afghan airspace under 25,000ft. We will continue to keep this under review," he tweeted.

A source with the Afghan health authority said that two explosions by a suicide attacker and a car bomb left more than 40 people dead and a hundred others injured.

16:28 GMT 26.08.2021

Fifty-two people were injured in two blasts outside Kabul airport on Thursday, Taliban (banned as a terrorist organization in Russia) spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed to Sputnik.

In addition, Mohammad Naeem, a spokesman for the Taliban's political office, said that the movement is unaware of who could be behind the attack and does not rule out the involvement of the Daesh* terrorist group (banned in Russia).

At the moment of the terrorist attack in the airport, no Russian citizens were present in the area, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote on her Telegram channel.

In a tweet, David Martinon, the French ambassador to Afghanistan, reported there were no casualties among the French military and diplomats.

The UK Defence Ministry also said on Twitter that it had received no reports about the victims among the British military or government officials as a result of the explosions.

16:09 GMT 26.08.2021

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will chair a government crisis response meeting later on Thursday after two explosions near Kabul airport killed at least a dozen people and wounded around 50 others, Sky News reported.

The UK Ministry of Defense informed via Twitter that there have been no reported UK military or government casualties as a result of the incident.

"UK forces are working closely with our partners to provide security and medical assistance," the ministry added.

Earlier in the day, the Pentagon confirmed two explosions took place in Kabul – the first one at the Abbey gate of the airport and another one near a hotel used by the US as a gathering area for evacuee civilians. At least 12 people were killed and 48 more injured as a result of the explosions, a source in an emergency hospital in the Afghan capital said.

16:04 GMT 26.08.2021
15:30 GMT 26.08.2021
15:25 GMT 26.08.2021

The second explosion outside Kabul airport was caused by a car bomb, Sky News reported on Thursday, citing a source in the UK Defence Ministry.

The first blast, which happened outside the Baron Hotel, is believed to have been carried out by a suicide attacker, while the second blast at the Abbey Gate "is thought to have been a car bomb," the source said.

15:14 GMT 26.08.2021

French Ambassador in Afghanistan David Martinon and other diplomats will leave Kabul in the coming days, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday.

"As for the ambassador and the whole team, many other French people, including police officers, they will leave the territory of Afghanistan in the last flights that we carry out within the timeframe set by the US allies, in the coming days," Macron said at a press conference following negotiations with the Irish prime minister.

The French ambassador will keep fulfilling his duties from Paris, the president added.

France will be doing everything possible to evacuate the "several hundreds" of distressed persons from Afghanistan, Macron pledged.

14:48 GMT 26.08.2021
14:30 GMT 26.08.2021
14:15 GMT 26.08.2021

"To all our Afghan friends: if you are near the airport gates, move away urgently and take cover. A second explosion is possible," the French Ambassador to Afghanistan tweeted. 

14:06 GMT 26.08.2021

The UK Defense Ministry said, commenting on the explosion at Kabul airport, that it was working to establish what happened there and was figuring out how this would affect the evacuation.

"We are working urgently to establish what has happened in Kabul and its impact on the ongoing evacuation effort," the ministry said.

"Our primary concern remains the safety of our personnel, British citizens and the citizens of Afghanistan. We are in close contact with our US and other NATO allies at an operational level on the immediate response to this incident," it added.

14:02 GMT 26.08.2021

France has flown over 2,700 people on twelve flights out of Afghanistan since the Taliban (a terrorist group, banned in Russia) took over the city, French Defense Minister Florence Parly said on Thursday.

"More than 2,700 people have been evacuated from Kabul by our armies since Monday, August 16," Parly tweeted.

Earlier in the day, French Prime Minister Jean Castex said the government will halt airlifts on Friday, four days before the August 31 deadline.

All land border crossings from Afghanistan are currently controlled by the Taliban (a terrorist organization banned in Russia). The evacuation of foreign citizens and Afghans who worked for international missions is being carried out through the only airport in Kabul, which is held by the United States Military and other NATO member countries. The Taliban have said they do not intend to provide additional time for evacuation after August 31.

13:45 GMT 26.08.2021

Belgium has not raised the internal terrorist threat level after the arrival of Afghan nationals evacuated from Kabul, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo said on Thursday.

"The [terrorist] threat level is determined by Belgium's Coordination Unit for Threat Assessment. It did not change its recommendations based on the analysis of the situation," De Croo said at a press conference in Brussels.

All arrivals from Afghanistan undergo a thorough, multi-level security check by the Belgian authorities, he added.

About 1,400 people were evacuated by Belgium from Afghanistan, including Belgian and foreign nationals, as well as Afghans who worked for US-led foreign troops during war, the Belgian authorities said.

Belgium completed evacuation on Wednesday evening. According to media reports, even before the country began flying people out of Afghanistan, the interior ministry and the federal police had voiced concerns about the possible arrival of fundamentalists and the overall upcoming wave of migration.

13:42 GMT 26.08.2021
The moment when the explosion occurred at Kabul airport - Sputnik International, 1920
Blasts Rock Areas Outside Kabul's Airport Hours After Warnings of Daesh Terror Threat
13:41 GMT 26.08.2021

The United States views the security threat around Kabul airport as credible and imminent, acting US ambassador in Afghanistan Ross Wilson told ABC on Thursday.

"[The threat] was clearly regarded as credible, as imminent, as compelling," he said. "Our intention was to urge Americans and frankly others not to come to the airport."

13:07 GMT 26.08.2021

The evacuation operations led by the United States will not end in 36 hours, US Defence Department spokesperson John Kirby said on Thursday.

12:59 GMT 26.08.2021

The US Treasury has given its consent to aid groups and banks for participation in humanitarian assistance for Afghanistan despite the existing anti-terrorism sanctions on the Taliban (banned in Russia), the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday citing people familiar with the matter.

The consent in the form of informal guidance came earlier this week as a response to pressure from aid groups and banks which do not want to get under Treasury’s blow for providing humanitarian relief or conducting financial transactions in Taliban-controlled areas, according to the report.

It is unclear whether the Treasury plans to issue a formal document that would provide such waivers, the report said.

Earlier in the day, the World Food Programme warned its supply of food in Afghanistan might end in October, stressing that funding has been dwindling amid escalating demands.

12:51 GMT 26.08.2021
12:48 GMT 26.08.2021

The United States is unable to maintain order at the Kabul airport where approximately 50 people died amid the evacuation chaos, Russian Ambassador to Kabul Dmitry Zhirnov said on Thursday.

"The Americans really cannot maintain anything [order] there, they have victims there, about 50 ordinary people have already died," the diplomat told the Rossiya 24 broadcaster, adding that the situation at the airport can be described as "chaos."

However, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that despite the chaos at the Kabul airport, Russian and Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) citizens were safely airlifted from Afghanistan with the assistance of the Taliban (banned as a terrorist organization in Russia) and Washington.

On Wednesday, the Russian Defense Ministry said that over 500 Russian, CSTO and Ukrainian citizens were evacuated from Afghanistan following an order by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Earlier on Thursday, the Russian Ambassador in Kabul Dmitry Zhirnov said 360 Russian citizens left Afghanistan on the previous day.

"Despite disarrangement of the Kabul airport operation, preparations for the export flights, as well as the flights themselves, were carried out successfully with the assistance of the Taliban movement and the US, which continues to control the Afghan airspace," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

From August 25-26, the Russian Defence Ministry arranged flights for citizens of Russia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, which asked the Russian embassy to assist the return of their people.

12:40 GMT 26.08.2021

Russia has fulfilled all the foreign requests to evacuate citizens from Afghanistan and will study new appeals if they are filed, Russian Ambassador to Kabul Dmitry Zhirnov said on Thursday.

"All the requests were granted. If there are some new applicants, we will think about how to help them," Zhirnov told Rossiya 24 broadcaster.

Russia has assisted the evacuation of around 38 citizens of the Collective Security Treaty Organization member states, the ambassador added.

12:15 GMT 26.08.2021

Canada’s evacuation operations in Afghanistan have come to an end and the majority of the country’s armed forces have departed the Kabul airport, General Wayne Eyre said on Thursday.

“Our evacuation operations have ceased, and the majority of personnel departed the Hamid Karzai International Airport approximately eight hours ago,” Eyre said at a virtual press conference. “A small contingent remains on the ground to support and coordinate our airbridge for the retrograde of allied forces, while conditions permit.”


12:13 GMT 26.08.2021

Turkey will complete the withdrawal of its military from Afghanistan within 36 hours, the president's spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, said on Thursday.

On Wednesday, the Turkish defence ministry announced that the country has begun the evacuation of Turkish troops, as they have "successfully fulfilled their duty in Afghanistan." According to Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, Turkey will speed up the evacuation despite difficult conditions at the moment.

"We will completely evacuate our military from Kabul for 24-36 hours. After our troops leave Afghanistan, we still can manage the airport in Kabul. Our civilian specialists can provide support. Negotiations on this issue are still underway," Kalin said, as broadcast by TV channel NTV.

It is necessary to provide security in the Kabul airport in any case, the spokesman added.

"I do not think the Taliban [a terrorist group, banned in Russia] is capable of this work [securing the airport]. They will likely request such service by themselves. If the airport stop functioning, they are not interested in that," Kalin said.

In July, Ankara expressed its willingness to provide security for Kabul airport after the withdrawal of American troops. The Taliban said that although the movement seeks good relations with Turkey, they have no desire to see Turkish troops in Afghanistan.

12:12 GMT 26.08.2021

China is ready to cooperate with the world community to facilitate the peaceful rebuilding of Afghanistan, Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng said on Thursday.

"China is ready to work together with the international community to support the peaceful rebuilding of Afghanistan, improve living conditions and people’s well-being, as well as increase opportunities for [the country’s] independent development," the spokesman told a briefing.

He further noted that trade between China and Afghanistan totalled $550 million in 2020. During the first half of this year, trade increased by 44% year-on-year to $310 million.

12:02 GMT 26.08.2021

The Taliban movement (outlawed in Russia) demonstrated "a very good coordination" level during the evacuation of Russians from Kabul, Russian Ambassador to Afghanistan Dmitry Zhirnov said on Thursday.

"We are resolving all current issues, very good cooperation with the Taliban took place in organizing the evacuation of Russian citizens," the diplomat told the Rossiya 24 broadcaster, adding that there is "chaos" in the Kabul airport at the moment.

The ambassador added that all citizens who have expressed willingness to leave Afghanistan were evacuated.

"We flew out yesterday with four specially ordered aircraft, 360 people [were evacuated]," Zhirnov added.

11:55 GMT 26.08.2021

The United States has only 36 hours left to complete the operation to evacuate from Afghanistan its citizens and Afghans who worked for the US mission, CNN reported on Thursday, citing an anonymous source.

According to the CNN source, as of 08:00 Kabul time (03:30 GMT), 150 US citizens and around 1,800 Afghan staff of the US embassy were still to get to the Kabul airport, with "36 hours [left] to do it."

"American citizens are still trickling in but their priority has shifted to local staff," the source added.

Access to the airport is complicated, as almost all the gates are closed out of fear of possible terrorist attacks, apart from the one that Afghan security forces were unofficially using for their evacuees, the source said.

According to the source, evacuation will end on Friday.

11:34 GMT 26.08.2021

Germany’s military mission to evacuate people from Afghanistan has entered "the most dangerous phase" as a terrorist threat in the country has "significantly increased" recently, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the Defense Ministry’s spokeswoman, said on Thursday.

"We are in the most chaotic, dangerous and sensitive phase [of the operation]. We know that terrorist threats have grown significantly, they have become more specific," Kramp-Karrenbauer told a press briefing.

The spokeswoman added that the first, a military phase, will end soon after the United States withdraws its forces from Afghanistan, paving a way for the diplomatic phase of the evacuation operation to start.

Germany has so far evacuated over 5,000 people from Afghanistan, including approximately 4,200 Afghan citizens and 550 Germans.

11:14 GMT 26.08.2021

Qatar has assisted the evacuation of more than 40,000 people, including children, women and minority representatives, from Afghanistan, the foreign ministry said on Thursday.

"In coordination with countries and parties on the ground, Qatar has facilitated the evacuation of more than 40,000 people safely from Kabul to Qatar. Most of the evacuees are transiting in Qatar, where they are hosted temporarily for a few days before departing on flights to their onward destinations," the statement read.

Qatar evacuated Afghan employees with their families as well as female students at the request of various international groups, including non-governmental and media organizations, and educational institutions, the statement specified.

In addition, the country facilitated the evacuation of British, German, US and other nationals, the ministry said, noting that Doha "will spare no effort in supporting the people of Afghanistan" through diplomacy and developmental projects.

11:12 GMT 26.08.2021

The United States and its allies evacuated approximately 13,400 people from Afghanistan over the past 24 hours, White House deputy spokesman Andrew Bates said on Thursday.

10:56 GMT 26.08.2021

The Taliban has disallowed 140 Afghan Sikhs and Hindus from travelling to India for a religious function.

After a wait of nearly 15 hours in their convoys, the Sikhs and Hindus were refused permission to leave the strife-torn country.

The delegation from Afghanistan was supposed to attend the 400th birth anniversary of Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur at a Gurudwara in Delhi on 29 August. 

The development comes two days after the Taliban announced they will not allow Afghan nationals to leave the country.

10:47 GMT 26.08.2021
Former President of Afghanistan (2004-2014) Hamid Karzai - Sputnik International, 1920
Taliban Spokesman Denies Reports About Karzai, Abdullah House Arrest in Kabul
10:30 GMT 26.08.2021

The World Food Programme (WFP) warned on Thursday its supply of food in Afghanistan might end in October, stressing that funding has been dwindling amid escalating demands.

"With funding levels tight and needs escalating, WFP risks running out of our food supply from October," WFP wrote on Twitter.

The UN body, which is requesting $200 million to bring hope to 14 million people in Afghanistan, said food has reached 80,000 people across Afghanistan over the past week.

According to the WFP chief David Beasley, conflict, COVID-19 pandemic, and economic crisis in Afghanistan have pushed the number of people "marching to the brink of starvation" from 5-6 million to 13-14 million people over the course of several years.

The UN agency expressed commitment to continue operation in the war-ridden country, adding that "the race is on to scale up and preposition food before the harsh winter arrives."

The WFP chief also said the agency's damaged planes from Kabul have been repaired, and the UN body is now ready to establish a humanitarian air bridge between Islamabad-Kabul and other destinations in Afghanistan to meet the needs of the Afghan people.

“@WFP is now ready to establish a humanitarian air bridge between Islamabad-Kabul & other destinations in #Afghanistan. This will allow us to scale up to meet the needs of the Afghan people,” David Beasley tweeted.

The air bridge will allow to transport UN, NGOs and humanitarian staff, the official added.

On August 15, the Taliban (designated terrorist by the UN and Russia) entered Kabul, prompting the US-supported civilian government to collapse. Ashraf Ghani resigned as president and fled the country to prevent what he described as bloodshed that would occur if militants had to storm the city. The development pushed many Afghans to seek escape from the country.

Even before the militant takeover, the country of 38 million had more than half of its population living below the poverty line.

10:22 GMT 26.08.2021

A communications mechanism between Russia and the United States on Afghanistan has been established, and contacts are likely to continue, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday.

"These contacts [between Russia and the US] arise when needed, but the contact mechanism is well established. Of course, the situation requires an exchange of views, an exchange of information, therefore, with a high degree of probability, one way or another, these contacts will continue," Peskov told reporters.

The Kremlin spokesman mentioned that Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev held a phone conversation with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan to discuss the situation in Afghanistan earlier this week.

10:21 GMT 26.08.2021

Russia is yet to develop its final stand on the admission of migrants from Afghanistan, work is underway to finalise it, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday.

"No, there is no formulated position on the matter yet ... Both migration authorities and the ministry of foreign affairs are engaged in the effort ... You know, the situation keeps changing, and there are many questions left, so we will formulate a position when everything becomes clear," Peskov told reporters.

10:03 GMT 26.08.2021
In this Aug. 19, 2021 file photo, Taliban fighters display their flag on patrol in Kabul, Afghanistan. When U.S. President Joe Biden took office early this year, Western allies were falling over themselves to welcome and praise him and hail a new era in trans-Atlantic cooperation. - Sputnik International, 1920
Russia Has Not Recognised Taliban, but Group Has De Facto Control Over Much of Afghanistan - Kremlin
09:44 GMT 26.08.2021

Frequent firing incidents, multiple checkpoints by various groups near Kabul Airport as well as overflight clearances by 'relevant countries' have been described as major challenges by India as it ramps up evacuation efforts in Afghanistan.

As per Indian foreign ministry sources, Foreign Minister Jaishankar made these points to the floor leaders of Indian Parliamentary parties during a briefing on the regional security situation on Thursday.

Last week, the US closed down the Kabul airspace for other countries as it evacuated its citizens and allied Afghans from the nation.

09:09 GMT 26.08.2021

UK Armed Forces Minister James Heappey warned on Thursday that Daesh-Khorasan group (a branch of the Islamic State terrorist group, both banned in Russia) might stage an "imminent" and "severe" terrorist attack at the Kabul airport "within hours."

Earlier this week, a senior UK source told the Sky News broadcaster about a "very high risk" of a terrorist attack against the evacuation operation, with the main threat coming from Daesh-K. CNN also reported, citing sources, that the US shared these concerns that are mounting after over 100 prison inmates loyal to the Daesh-K escaped from two prisons near Kabul.

"There is real imminence," Heappey told the LBC broadcaster, citing "very credible reporting" from the UK intelligence.

When asked about possible time frames, the official said that the attack could come as early as this morning.

"I was given lines today for what might happen if there was an attack during this interview round," he added.

Earlier in August, US President Joe Biden warned that Daesh terrorists might exploit the hectic situation at the Kabul airport to target those fleeing the country and US and allied troops, adding that Washington was monitoring and disrupting threats from any source.

09:08 GMT 26.08.2021

Tashkent has maintained contact with the Taliban (a terrorist organization banned in Russia) for several years and considers it an indisputable part of the Afghan society, Uzbek Deputy Foreign Minister Farkhod Arziyev said on Thursday, adding that Uzbekistan acknowledges that the movement came to power in Afghanistan.

"The Taliban came to power in Afghanistan and we can say that they completely control the country," Arziyev told a Senate session.

The diplomat recalled that Uzbek authorities have maintained contact with the Taliban for several years and consider that "an indisputable factor of the Afghan society."

"We support the formation of a government in Afghanistan that takes into account the interests of all political forces and achieves them through peaceful negotiations. We have always distanced ourselves from the idea that the Afghan problem can be solved by force in Afghanistan," Arziyev added.

09:06 GMT 26.08.2021

French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced on Thursday that his country will not be able to conduct evacuation flights from the Kabul airport starting from Friday, four days before the August 31 evacuation deadline expires.

"From tomorrow night we will no longer be able to carry out evacuation [flights] from the Kabul airport," Castex told RTL radio.

Earlier this week, French government spokesman Gabrial Attal said that France may end operations to evacuate people from Afghanistan in near future but did not specify the exact date.

All land border crossings from Afghanistan are currently controlled by the Taliban (a terrorist organization banned in Russia]. The evacuation of foreign citizens and Afghans who worked for international missions is carried out through the only airport in Kabul, which is held by the military of the United States and other NATO member countries. The Taliban said they do not intend to provide additional time to the US to evacuate people after August 31.

08:23 GMT 26.08.2021
07:38 GMT 26.08.2021
Самолет C-17 в аэропорту Кабула  - Sputnik International, 1920
Norway Sends Police, Special Forces Back to Kabul Amid 'Extremely Demanding' Situation
06:36 GMT 26.08.2021

Thousands of Afghans wanting to cross over into Pakistan through the Spin Boldak border in Kandahar province have been left stranded at the crossing as Pakistani authorities struggle to cope with the surge of migrants.

06:21 GMT 26.08.2021

"There is now very, very credible reporting of an imminent attack, and hence why the Foreign Office advice was changed last night, that people should not come to Kabul Airport, they should move to a safe place and await further instructions," James Heappey, Minister for the Armed Forces of United Kingdom, said.

05:57 GMT 26.08.2021

French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced on Thursday that his country will not be able to conduct evacuation flights from the Kabul airport starting from Friday, four days before the August 31 evacuation deadline expires.

"From tomorrow night we will no longer be able to carry out evacuation [flights] from the Kabul airport," Castex told RTL radio.

Earlier this week, French government spokesman Gabrial Attal said that France may end operations to evacuate people from Afghanistan in near future but did not specify the exact date.

05:57 GMT 26.08.2021
05:51 GMT 26.08.2021
A Taliban fighter holding an M16 assault rifle stands outside the Interior Ministry in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 16, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920
'Too Optimistic': Danish Intelligence Admits It Didn't Foresee Kabul Falling to Taliban in 2021
05:24 GMT 26.08.2021

Some US citizens have told the Department of State that they do not want to leave Afghanistan without their Afghan family members, The Washington Post reported, citing a phone conversation between administration officials and congressional staff members.

“The embassy has told us that an increasing number is telling us that they won’t leave unless they can take large families with them,” Karin King, a senior State Department official, said during the call.

King also stressed that the chaos around the Kabul Airport urged the US government to call on its citizens and green-card holders to head for specific points from where they would be brought to the airport.

“My best advice to all those folks is to get themselves registered and get away from the gates because the gates are simply not a way to gain access at this point,” she added.


05:24 GMT 26.08.2021

The Belgian government decided on Wednesday to complete the operation to evacuate citizens from Kabul airport, the cabinet said in a statement.

"The federal government has decided to stop the operation on evacuation from Kabul airport by agreement with European partners, taking into account the development of the situation in Afghanistan," the statement said.

The government also said the Belgian Air Force made five flights to Kabul on Wednesday. Currently, some of the evacuees are in Pakistan, from where they will soon be sent to Belgium.

Earlier reports said that after the seizure of power in Afghanistan by the Taliban (terrorist group, banned in Russia), Belgium evacuated about 1,300 people.

The Belgian military evacuated from Kabul airport Belgians and their families, citizens of other European countries, as well as Afghans who collaborated with international and Belgian organizations.

Belgian Defense Minister Ludivine Dedonder said Belgium can maintain the presence of a limited group of its military in one of the neighbouring countries for the possible evacuation of those who remain in Afghanistan.

05:24 GMT 26.08.2021

Around 1,500 US passport and visa holders are trying to get to the airport in the Afghan capital, desperate to catch a flight out, according to reports.

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