A new security alert from the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul has some worried that some Americans will still be stranded in the country after the U.S. completes its troop withdrawal on Aug. 31.
Issued Friday, the alert warns that “because of security threats at the Kabul airport, we continue to advise U.S. citizens to avoid traveling to the airport and to avoid airport gates.”
In bold letters, the alert adds: “U.S. citizens who are at the Abbey gate, East gate, North gate or the New Ministry of Interior gate now should leave immediately.”
“A specific, credible threat”
By Saturday, the U.S. Embassy had updated its warning to tell U.S. citizens near the Kabul airport to leave “immediately” over what it called a “credible threat.”
According to The Hill, the embassy said:
Due to a specific, credible threat, all U.S. citizens in the vicinity of Kabul airport (HKIA), including the South (Airport Circle) gate, the new Ministry of the Interior, and the gate near the Panjshir Petrol station on the northwest side of the airport, should leave the airport area immediately.
President Joe Biden himself had warned of an additional attack on Kabul’s airport after a Thursday bombing there left 13 U.S. service members dead.
“Our commanders informed me that an attack is highly likely in the next 24-36 hours,” Biden said in a statement Saturday, as The Hill reported. “I directed them to take every possible measure to prioritize force protection, and ensured that they have all the authorities, resources and plans to protect our men and women on the ground.”
“The ultimate sacrifice”
In his statement, Biden also paid tribute to the 13 military members killed at the Kabul airport on Thursday as troops were continuing evacuation efforts in the wake of a Taliban takeover there. Many of the military members who were killed were in their early 20s.
“The 13 service members that we lost were heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice in service of our highest American ideals and while saving the lives of others,” the president said.
It all comes as the Pentagon says the U.S. has gotten roughly 117,000 people out of Afghanistan, including at least 5,400 Americans, Breitbart reports. “Despite the treacherous situation in Kabul, we are continuing to evacuate civilians,” Biden said in his Saturday statement. “Yesterday, we brought out another 6,800 people, including hundreds of Americans. And today, we discussed the ongoing preparations to help people continue to leave Afghanistan after our military departs.”
But the Aug. 31 deadline is drawing closer, and the State Department said as recently as Saturday that some 350 U.S. citizens are still looking to be evacuated, according to Fox News.
Another 280 Americans identified by the State Department as being in Afghanistan have yet to indicate whether they want out, a State Department spokesperson said.