A Russian media correspondent, Murad Gazdiev, arrived at Kabul airport this week to report on the ground and was shocked by the deteriorating conditions and continued spiraling crisis. “We’ve just arrived at Kabul airport. American troops call what is happening here ‘World War Z,’ referring to the zombie movie starring Brad Pitt. It is clear why,” he narrated.
“The situation is horrendous. The entire airport is littered with bullet casings and flash-bang grenades,” he continued. “Everything, absolutely everything is covered in barbed wire. The entire runway is lined with barbed wire.” And there are tragic scenes of desperate Afghan civilians standing outside the airport walls in knee-deep sewage.
This as new reports emerge from US officials, and even a pair of congressman who just went to Kabul’s international airport on a fact finding mission, that it’s looking nearly impossible that US troops will be able to evacuate everyone on Washington’s list or who has a visa, including possibly Americans stuck in the capital city, by the Aug.31 deadline.
One of the Congressional members who touched down in Kabul airport this week, Democratic Representative Seth Moulton – who served as a Marine and multi-tour Iraq war veteran – said, “To say that today is anything short of a disaster would be dishonest. Worse, it was avoidable.”
RT News footage showing a chaotic scene and warning shots fired by Taliban “security” militants just outside the airport:
Gazdiev, meanwhile, continues of his description: “Shooting is ceaseless, 10 minutes don’t pass without gunfire. Either within the airport; American troops scaring away the more daring locals, or shooting near the main entrance, where the Taliban is discouraging would-be refugees.”
Other reporters on the ground, like LA Times foreign correspondent Nabih Bulos, have documented that US troops are just inside the perimeter wall that surrounds Hamid Karzai airport, while Taliban militants are just on the other side.
The fact that the Taliban is clearly just outside the gates as the mass evacuation continues means that should US and Western troops stay past the Aug.31 deadline, firefights will likely break out. On Tuesday the White House indicated Biden would stick to this deadline after the Taliban warned of “consequences” – despite critics and even allies like the UK, Germany and France saying some of their nationals and even Americans might be left behind.
The LA Times’ Bulos described elsewhere that:
But behind the scenes, the evacuation effort is chaotic, sorrowful, smelly, dirty — and dangerous.
Gazing at the action from the ground are hundreds, occasionally thousands of Afghan men, women and children, standing in long queues that snake toward and into parked aircraft.
In some instances the various armed groups and armies trying to keep control both inside and outside the airport, including the former Afghan national forces that are still at the airport assisting the US military, have resorted to frequently shooting into air, and sometimes even into the crowds of onrushing people.
The LA Times describes further:
In the first week, it was a lethal melee pitting residents clutching documents and worn-looking luggage against uniformed men with wraparound glasses and the quick-to-anger swagger of lethal paramilitary fighters.
They were some of the last remnants of the U.S.-supported Afghan security force. Far from protecting fellow Afghans, they used ropes, truncheons, sticks, whips, rifle butts, shots in the air and — when all else failed — shots in bodies to keep their compatriots back from a chance at escape.
Yet still this is perhaps a step up from the ‘Mad Max’ style scenes from the first days of the crisis…
For the past week-and-a-half there’s been a steady expansion of the barbed wire and makeshift barriers that now line airport entrances and near the runways.
There continue to be reports of violence and beatings outside the airport gates, as well as people being trampled.
Some images have shown the blood-stained individuals seeking medical care and violence even while in progress, as Taliban militants become increasingly frustrated and angered at the rush of Afghans trying to escape their rule.
During what was initially his ‘secret’ visit to Kabul airport, Congressman Moulton observed while he was there “indescribable” scenes of desperation.
“Witnessing our young Marines and soldiers at the gates, navigating a confluence of humanity as raw and visceral as the world has ever seen, was indescribable,” he wrote on social media.
Since things in Kabul quickly unraveled last week, the Pentagon has confirmed that American forces have sent a handful of ‘rescue operations’ into the capital city, outside the secure confines of the airport, such as a recent mission to rescue 169 Americans from a hotel.
On Wednesday the Pentagon has confirmed another helicopter rescue mission that took troops significantly outside the airport and into the city, this in order to rescue “less than 20 Americans,” as the latest military press briefing indicated.
According to Fox News, “This is the third time American forces have launched helicopters to rescue Americans outside the airport.”
At the same briefing the Pentagon announced that over 4,400 Americans have now been evacuated from Afghanistan, clearly indicating the vast majority of the many thousands taken out so far have been Afghan nationals that previously worked with the coalition.
Further it appears there are a number of more ‘unofficial’ rescue mission forays into Kabul, all of which are highly dangerous in terms of the prospect of an on the ground firefight between Western allied forces and the Taliban breaking out:
And with special immigrant visa applicants cut off from escape by Taliban checkpoints, retired Marine Corps Sgt. Ryan Rogers told Fox News Tuesday that non-government organizations have been working through unofficial channels to try to help.
“Everyone is p—ed about this even being necessary,” he said. “But if the president doesn’t want to step up and lead, someone else will.”
Last week, Rogers helped raise the alarm that his former U.S.-contracted Afghan interpreter was trapped in Kabul, hiding from the Taliban and hoping to make it out of the country.
But the more that American troops leave the airport, even in heavily armed helicopter gunships, the greater the likelihood a potential disastrous “Black Hawk Down” scenario becomes – in reference to the events of 1993 Somalia during the Battle of Mogadishu, where 18 American soldiers were killed, including two Delta Force operatives.
During that conflict under then newly elected Bill Clinton, and which precipitated the complete US forces hasty withdrawal from war-torn Somalia, a massive US ground force had to go back into the city to rescue the initial trapped Americans. This led to days of firefights and growing casualties taken on by the Americans.
Pentagon warns that terror splinter group ISIS-K is ‘targeting’ evacuation planes leaving Kabul and airport gates packed with desperate Afghans
- Pentagon officials on Tuesday briefed congressional staff members about Kabul
- The officials said that the situation around the airport was deteriorating
- They warned of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant–Khorasan Province (ISIS-K)
- ISIS-K, they said, is believed to be trying to attack jets leaving Kabul airport
- Their activities are why gates around the airport have been closed
- U.S. citizens and green card holders were meeting at the Ministry of Interior
- They were then escorted to the airport to avoid large crowds in the area
- On Tuesday the system fell apart and some planes were flying out empty
- A senior British source said the risk of an attack on evacuations is ‘very high’
- ISIS affiliate ‘Islamic State Khorasan’ is thought to be biggest threat
- The Taliban vowed to block more civilians from reaching the airport
- Mercy flights only expected to last a few hours before troop evacuation begins
- The Taliban set a deadline of August 31 for all allied personnel to be withdrawn
- Tory MP Bob Seely said ‘you have got to address Biden’s intellectual fitness’ and labelled the allied evacuation operations as a ‘categoric disaster’
Dozens of California students and parents are stranded in Afghanistan after taking a summer trip to the country.
More than 20 students and 16 parents from the Cajon Valley Union School District in El Cajon, Calif., visited Afghanistan on summer vacation. Now they are among thousands of people who are waiting to leave the country amid the chaotic U.S. withdrawal that has caused political unrest across the nation, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The initial Biden plan for the complete US troop draw down from Afghanistan was to authorize a security force of some 600 Marines to guard the massive US embassy compound in Kabul. This was announced last Spring – of course long before the chaotic botched evacuation events of this month, which has seen all diplomats and military retreat to the confines of Hamid Karzai international airport.
Plans have drastically changed as on Wednesday during a Pentagon press briefing a military spokesman confirmed that the embassy will be completely abandoned.
“After the US military leaves Kabul on Aug. 31, no Americans will guard the $800 million dollar US embassy in Kabul,” Fox’s Pentagon corresponded Lucas Tomlinson reports.