Conflicting reports have emerged in recent days regarding how long U.S. forces will remain in Afghanistan to assist in evacuating Americans and allies.
That lack of clarity has left some citizens and their loved ones with a sense of panic and dread.
“Until the clock runs out”
According to The Daily Wire, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin insisted at a press conference on Wednesday that military personnel would be available at the Kabul international airport “until the clock runs out,” though he offered few specific details about the ongoing mission.
His reference to the clock could be an indication that U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan only until the Biden administration’s self-imposed deadline of Aug. 31.
On the same day, however, Biden suggested that service members could remain in place past that cutoff date if conditions warrant it.
During an ABC News interview, host George Stephanopoulos pressed the president on the issue, inquiring: “We’ve got like 10 to 15,000 Americans in the country right now — and are you committed to making sure that the troops stay until every American who wants to be out is out?”
Although Biden stressed that his administration will “try to get it done before Aug. 31,” he added that “if there’s American citizens left, we’re going to stay to get them all out.”
“Do not travel to the airport”
The State Department had instructed Americans to go to the airport, it issued a stark warning on Wednesday that the U.S. government “cannot ensure safe passage” any longer.
“Do not call the U.S. Embassy in Kabul for details or updates about the flight,” the advisory continued, according to The Daily Wire. “Do not travel to the airport until you have been informed by email that departure options exist. We will continue to provide periodic updates to this message.”
State Department deputy press secretary Wendy Sherman separately noted that the Taliban might not permit Afghans who worked with U.S. forces to depart the country.
“We have seen reports that the Taliban, contrary to their public statements and their commitments to our government, are blocking Afghans who wish to leave the country from reaching the airport,” she acknowledged.
With reports of American citizens attempting to make their way to and through the heavily fortified airport, there is little question that the Biden administration’s troop withdrawal has placed innocent lives in danger.