The United States temporarily suspended operations at Karzai International Airport on Monday afternoon in order to clear the airfield of Afghans attempting to flee from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
The U.S. took control of airport operations over the weekend after Taliban militants took over Kabul and toppled the Afghan government. The airport has become the center for embassy operations as well after U.S. officials and personnel abandoned the U.S. embassy on Sunday.
“The US military has suspended air operations at the Kabul airport while troops try to clear the airfield of Afghans who flooded the tarmac, per [CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr]. Biden’s national security advisers have made clear this a.m. they don’t consider the airport secure right now,” CNN’s Kaitlan Collins tweeted on Monday morning.
The US military has suspended air operations at the Kabul airport while troops try to clear the airfield of Afghans who flooded the tarmac, per @barbarastarrcnn. Biden’s national security advisers have made clear this a.m. they don’t consider the airport secure right now.
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) August 16, 2021
Later Monday evening, U.S. officials said flights were resuming. John Kirby, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman, attributed the halt to a security breach at the airport’s civilian side.
Videos posted on social media of Karzai show hundreds of Afghans crowding the airstrip attempting to flee the country. Video also shows Afghans clinging to planes taking off, and reports say that some Afghans have fallen from planes to their deaths in desperate attempts to escape Afghanistan.
The international evacuation plan has been bottlenecked at Karzai International Airport. Bagram Air Base, located north of Kabul, was overrun with Taliban militants over the weekend after the U.S. turned the base over to the Afghan military last month. As The Daily Wire reported:
The Taliban took control of Bagram Air Base on Sunday, a former American airbase that the U.S turned over to the Afghanistan government last month.
The Taliban have reportedly released thousands of prisoners that were held at Bagram, including members of al Qaeda, the terror group that carried out the 9-11 attacks and prompted the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Bagram was under control of the U.S. military for roughly two decades before leaving it in control of the Afghan military in July as the U.S. pulled out of Afghanistan.
“The Taliban claims it overran Bagram Air Base and freed prisoners. Many high-value detainees were located there, including members of Al Qaeda. This will reverberate for years to come,” said Bill Roggio, Long War Journal editor, and terror analyst.
The U.S. is currently attempting to evacuate hundreds of embassy personnel, as well as Americans in Afghanistan and Afghan refugees. The Department of Defense is preparing to house up to 30,000 Afghan refugees at military bases in the U.S. Some U.S. citizens are reportedly trapped behind Taliban security checkpoints and are unable to reach Karzai. As The Daily Wire reported:
Sen. Tom Cotton’s (R-AK) office told New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman that his office is receiving calls from United States citizens trapped behind Taliban checkpoints, even as the U.S. State Department is demanding the Taliban allow foreign nationals to leave the country.
Cotton’s office opened its phone lines to citizens in Kabul who need help, according to a tweet the Senator sent out earlier Sunday, asking anyone in need to make contact. Haberman tweeted Sunday night that Cotton’s office received calls from “multiple U.S. citizens” requiring help.
This article has been updated to include additional information.
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