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With Security Deteriorating, U.S. Warns Against Traveling To Kabul Airport


Coalition forces assist a child during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.

Tens of thousands of people in Afghanistan waited nervously on August 21 to see whether the United States would deliver on U.S. President Joe Biden’s new pledge to evacuate all Americans and all Afghans who aided the war effort.

In a new security warning, the U.S. Embassy on August 21 told citizens not to travel to the Kabul airport without “individual instructions from a U.S. government representative.” The warning cited potential security threats outside its gates of the airport.

Meanwhile, crowds of document-clutching Afghans remained outside the concrete barriers and coils of razor wire that surround the Kabul airport.

Footage from Britain's Sky News showed soldiers covering three bodies with white tarpaulins outside of Kabul airport. It was not clear how they died.

A reporter for Sky News at the scene said people in the crowd were being "crushed" and that medics were rushing from casualty to casualty amid "dehydrated and terrified" Afghans who were desperate to leave the country.

There also were reports of the Taliban beating Afghans who were trying to reach the airport in order to flee the country.

WATCH: Deadly Stampede At Kabul Airport As People Try To Flee

Deadly Stampede At Kabul Airport As People Try To Flee
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European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on August 21 that it is "mathematically impossible" for the United States and its allies to evacuate the tens of thousands of Afghan personnel and their families by an August 31 deadline Biden has set for the last U.S. troops to leave Afghanistan.

Borrell said the EU has "complained" to U.S. officials that their security at Kabul airport was overly strict and was hampering attempts by Afghans who worked for the Europeans to enter.

Bahrain has said it will open up its airports to flights evacuating people from Afghanistan and the United Arab Emirates announced it would temporarily host Afghan refugees as the United States faced overcrowding at facilities holding evacuees in Qatar.

The August 21 developments came a day after evacuation flights from Kabul were temporarily halted to allow destination and transit points to catch up with the number of arrivals.

U.S. facilities at the Al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar had rapidly filled up as Washington rushed to meet its deadline to withdraw U.S. forces, foreigners, and eligible Afghan citizens from Afghanistan by August 31.

Hosting Refugees

Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, said on August 21 it was “allowing flights to make use of Bahrain’s transit facilities,” while the United Arab Emirates said it would host up to 5,000 Afghans “prior to their departure to other countries.”

More than a dozen countries have agreed to host at-risk Afghans at least temporarily, according to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, while a further dozen have agreed to serve as transit points for evacuees.

Chaotic scenes continued to unfold in Kabul on August 21 as the U.S.-imposed withdrawal deadline of August 31 approaches.

Six days after the Taliban moved into the Afghan capital, roads to Kabul's international airport remain clogged with traffic and people trying to clear Taliban-manned checkpoints amid reports that the militants were turning some Afghans away.

A witness told the dpa news agency that shots were being fired almost continuously outside the airport compound as thousands attempted to enter, and that loudspeakers were announcing that one gate to the airport would be closed for two days.

WATCH: Desperate Crowds Swell At Kabul Airport

Desperate Crowds Swell At Kabul Airport
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Addressing the nation in a televised address on August 20, Biden called the evacuation effort one of the "most difficult airlifts in history" and acknowledged that the evacuation effort had been suspended for a few hours on August 20 because countries processing new arrivals were overwhelmed.

However, Biden said flights from Kabul had resumed and the United States had made "significant progress." Some 13,000 people, he said, had been flown out of the country since August 14, the day before Taliban forces swept back into the Afghan capital.

The U.S. president added more than 18,000 people had been airlifted out since last month, with thousands more evacuated on private charter flights "facilitated by the U.S. government."

In the first known case of U.S. forces exiting Kabul's airport to rescue Americans since the Taliban takeover, the Pentagon said it had deployed three Chinook transport helicopters to rescue 169 Americans at a hotel who were unable to reach the Kabul airport gates.

At least 12 people have been killed in and around Kabul's airport since the Taliban retook the city on August 15, NATO and Taliban officials have said.

"The evacuation process is slow, as it is risky, for we don't want any form of clashes with Taliban members or civilians outside the airport," a NATO official told Reuters on August 20 on condition of anonymity.

Based on Reuters, AP, and AFP
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