The Biden administration has announced that it is set to begin evacuations of Afghans who aided the U.S. military effort in the nearly 20-year war during the last week of July.
Operation Allies Refuge flights out of Afghanistan will be available first for special immigrant visa applicants already in the process of applying for U.S. residency, the White House said on July 14.
President Joe Biden has faced pressure from U.S. lawmakers to come up with a plan to help evacuate Afghan military helpers ahead of next month's U.S. military withdrawal.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki declined to detail how many Afghans are expected to be among those evacuated in the first flights or where those evacuated will be taken, citing security concerns.
"The reason that we are taking these steps is because these are courageous individuals," Psaki said. "We want to make sure we recognize and value the role they've played over the last several years."
A State Department unit coordinating the evacuations will be run by veteran Ambassador Tracey Jacobson and include representatives from the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security, official said earlier.
Deputy Homeland Security Adviser Russ Travers will coordinate an interagency policy process related to the evacuations.
The announcement comes as the Taliban presses on with its surge, saying its forces seized a strategic border crossing with Pakistan on July 14.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted a video purporting to show Taliban fighters on July 14 in the southeastern town of Spin Boldak along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
On the Pakistani side, residents of the border town of Chaman reported seeing the Taliban's signature white flag flying just across the boundary line and Taliban fighters in vehicles driving in the area.
The Afghan government denied the Taliban had seized the border crossing.