According to the Russian ambassador to Kabul, the Taliban have requested that his embassy convey their offer to a pro-government spokesman in northern Afghanistan.
Dmitry Zhirnov, Ambassador to Russia, stated that a top Taliban leader had asked Russia to inform Panjshir Valley fighters that the Taliban want to come to an agreement.
According to the diplomat, the Taliban claim that they don’t want any bloodshed in the region.
The Taliban have not been able to seize control of the Panjshir Valley, north of Kabul. This is because it was a stronghold for the Northern Alliance militias, which were allies with the U.S. during 2001’s invasion of Afghanistan.
Vice President Amrullah Saleh of Afghanistan, who claimed on Twitter that he is now the country’s rightful President, following President Ashraf Ghani’s escape to the United Arab Emirates, are some of the Afghan government officials who fled Kabul and the rest to the Taliban.
Moscow, which fought 10 years of war in Afghanistan and ended in 1989 with the Soviet troop’s withdrawal, has made a comeback diplomatically as a mediator over the past decade, reaching out to different Afghan factions, including Taliban.
WASHINGTON — Members of President Joe Biden’s national security team have briefed him on the current situation in Afghanistan, according to the White House.
Biden and his staff met in the White House Situation Room on Saturday to discuss security and counterterrorism operations. This included the fight against the Islamic State group from Afghanistan.
Discussions also included discussions about evacuations and attempts to reach agreements with third-party nations willing to act as transit hubs for evacuees.
Kamala Harris, Vice President, joined the meeting via secure video teleconference while she was on her trip to Singapore. They were joined by the Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, National Intelligence Director Avril Haines, and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.
According to the White House, Biden has canceled his plans to travel Saturday to Wilmington, Delaware.
Since several years, the IS affiliate has been active in Afghanistan, committing horrific attacks mostly on the Shiite minority. This group has long expressed a desire to strike America and U.S. interests overseas. In recent years, the group has been repeatedly attacked by U.S. drone strikes and Taliban attacks. Officials claim that some members of the group remain active in Afghanistan. The U.S. is concerned that it could reconstitute in an even larger manner as the country falls under the control of the Taliban.
MILAN — Italy flew 211 Afghans from Kabul on Saturday, bringing the total number of Afghan workers in Italian missions and their families to around 2,100, according to a Defense Ministry statement.
1,100 of these have been brought to Italy. Italy launched Operation Aquila Omnia on June 1st. It has sent 1,500 servicemen to operate an airbridge between Kabul and Kuwait aboard four C130J aircraft and to ferry evacuees safely to Italy aboard four KC767s.
Some 80 people, including 33 women who had been evacuated earlier, arrived at a South Tyrol base on Saturday for a COVID-19 10-day quarantine.
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon reports that approximately 3,800 civilians were evacuated from Afghanistan in the last day. This is despite logistical difficulties and backlogs at various waystations throughout the Middle East and Europe.
As thousands tried desperately to flee the country, security threats slowed American and other travelers through Kabul’s airport gates.
According to the Pentagon, six C-17 U.S. military aircraft and 32 charter flights left Kabul airport in the last 24 hours. Only 1,600 people were carried by the military planes.
Army Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor (Joint Staff deputy director for region operations) told Pentagon reporters that only 2,500 of the 17,000 persons evacuated since August 15th were Americans. Officials from the United States have suggested that there may be as many as 15,000 Americans living in Afghanistan. However, they admit that they don’t know how solidly.
Evacuations have been delayed by logistical and screening problems at waystations like al-Udeid Air Base, Qatar. This base has reached its maximum capacity. Officials from the United States stated that they only have a limited number of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol screening personnel at the transit points and are having difficulty navigating the vetting system.
Taylor stated that Kabul’s airport is still open and that Americans will continue to be processed once they reach the gates.
John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesperson, declined to discuss security issues in detail. However, he said that the threat picture is changing by the hour.
Kirby stated, “We know we are fighting against time and space.” “That’s where we are right now.”
WASHINGTON — Saturday’s statement by a senior U.S. official stated that the potential threats from the Islamic State group to Americans in Afghanistan are forcing them to find new routes for evacuees.
According to the official, small groups of Americans and other civilians will receive specific instructions. These instructions include movement to transit points from where they can be collected by the military. To discuss military operations, the official spoke under anonymity.
These changes are coming as the U.S. Embassy issued an updated security warning Saturday, telling citizens not to travel to Kabul without a specific instruction from a U.S. government representative.
Officials were unable to give more details about the IS threat, but they described it as serious and stated that there have not been any confirmed IS incidents or attacks.
–Lolita Baldor in Washington
BUCHAREST (Romania) — Saturday saw a military aircraft landing safely at Bucharest’s Otopeni Airport. It carried 15 Romanians and four Bulgarians, who had been evacuated from Kabul.
Base 90 received the C-130 Hercules plane around 1:45 p.m. Romania’s defense minister Nicolae Ciuca and Bogdan Aurescu welcomed the evacuees to their country.
Aurescu stated, “I want you to stress that you, the Romanian citizen, are at center of our concerns, and action.” “Even if there were only one Romanian citizen, we would have done exactly the same.”
Aurescu described Afghanistan as a “place of extreme human despair and suffering” and stated that authorities would continue to address “waves o vulnerable groups such as Afghan journalists, whom we attempted to evacuate yesterday.”
Romania stated Friday that Kabul airport security was so difficult that no Afghan citizen it had “validated” and “contacted” could be evacuated to Romania.
Three evacuation flights were conducted by Romania this week from Kabul airport. In total, 23 people were evacuated, 16 of them being Romanians. The evacuees were all citizens of European Union countries, except one, who was a U.S. citizen. Officials said that another 30 Romanians were evacuated by aircraft from partner states in recent days.
In a Saturday statement, President Klaus Iohannis thanked authorities for their “successful coordination” of evacuations. He said that they took place “in extremely difficult security circumstances.”
LONDON — A former Royal Marine and charity director in Afghanistan, he has criticised the British government’s claims that Afghanistan is stabilizing. He warned that if they attempted to reach Kabul’s airport, he and his staff could be in danger.
Paul Farthing, also known as Pen, said that British authorities have told him he has a seat on an aircraft back to the U.K. but not for his 25 employees from Nowzad, his animal welfare charity.
Farthing stated that he was “disgusted” by the situation and warned that the humanitarian crisis was “getting outof control.”
He said, “We cannot leave the country because it is impossible to get into the airport without putting lives at risk.” “You’ve seen the scenes. It isn’t different now than any other time. It is only getting worse.”
He stated that he was “past angry” at the incompetence of the operation and is “just completely numb to it”.
On Wednesday, Britain had evacuated more than 2,000 Afghans, far more than the 300 U.K nationals. Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, stated that around 1,000 people were being evacuated daily amid “stabilization” at airport. Many of these were Afghan citizens, “to whom we owe a debt of gratitude and honour.”
MADRID — President of the European Commission, has asked the international community for help with Afghan refugees.
Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, President of the EU Council, made these remarks Saturday during their visit to a reception centre for evacuees set up by Spain’s government in Madrid.
“This resettlement is vital.” Von der Leyen stated that it was our moral obligation. She added that offering “legal and safe global routes, organized by us, international community for those who require protection”, must be a priority at next week’s G7 meeting about the Afghanistan crisis.
Together with Pedro Sanchez, the Spanish Prime Minister, the EU’s top diplomats toured the Torrejon military base near Madrid. They also saw the facility that Spain had built. It can hold 800 people.
Spain sent two planes to the base already. Five Spaniards and 48 Afghans, who worked for Spain, were brought back on the first plane. Late Friday night, a second flight with 110 Afghans arrived. Another flight, carrying 110 people, has taken off from Kabul to Dubai. This stopover point is being used by Spain before the evacuations take place in Madrid.
This air base also receives flights from the European Union External Action Service, along with other evacuees of Afghanistan who were airlifted from Kabul by other EU members.
Officials from the EU and member states such as Spain recognize however that the biggest obstacle to getting Afghans out of Afghanistan is getting them to and through the airport. Spain claims that it has had empty seats on its flights.
Von der Leyen stated that EU delegation members are always at the airport to help. It is a difficult situation and it is changing every minute, but intense work is being done to make the most of this difficult situation.
Evacuees who reach Spain’s airbase are expected to stay there for up to three days before moving on to welcome centers in Spain or continuing their journey to Europe.
Sanchez stated that other EU members have responded positively to his arrival and that some of them have already moved on to other countries within the bloc.
ISTANBUL — A Turkish Airlines flight carrying 160 refugees from Kabul to Istanbul landed Saturday, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
According to the news agency, the Turkish citizens arrived in Istanbul along with “other nationals” after first flying from Kabul to Pakistani capital Islamabad on a Turkish military aircraft. The identities of the passengers were not revealed, but the report stated that 14 children were among them. Non-Turkish nationals are being held in quarantine at hotels as part of pandemic regulations.
The news agency reported earlier that 204 Turkish citizens were brought from Kabul into Islamabad by two separate flights. It was not clear if they had traveled on to Turkey. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdan said that 552 Turkish citizens were evacuated from Afghanistan on Thursday.
LONDON — People in West London who have family members who are trying to leave Afghanistan seek advice from a local organization that was established 20 years ago to help Central Asian and Afghan refugees. It was also the year the Taliban were driven from power by an international force led by the United States.
Shah Hamdam, 52 years old, stated that he would do anything for his sister, a television journalist from Kabul, now the Taliban have taken control of Afghanistan.
Hamdam stated, “She is beggaring.” Hamdam said that she was begging for help.
Dr. Nooralhaq Nasimi was the founder and director for the Afghanistan & Central Asian Association. He left Afghanistan in 1999 with his family after the Taliban took over. According to him, his organization has received hundreds upon hundreds of phone calls from Afghans in recent days. This includes British Afghans on vacation who were caught up in the sudden and chaotic turn in events.
Nasimi stated that the Taliban will torture and humiliate those who were working with Western organisations.
BERLIN — Two small German military helicopters were delivered to Kabul by the United States in coordination with Germany officials. They were assembled and ready for action Saturday, German officials stated.
They will be used in Kabul for individual evacuations. However, Germany’s top military commander Gen. Eberhardzorn said that there is not yet a plan for their deployment.
Zorn stated that the situation at the Afghan capital’s airport is still difficult. There have been a variety of departures by German planes.
A German flight arrived at Tashkent Friday night with 172 people evacuated. However, two other flights with an Airbus A400M were also made and only seven and eight passengers were taken on the subsequent flights.
Annegret KrampKarrenbauer, Defense Minister, stated that Germany has so far evacuated almost 2,000 people. She stated that while the situation was difficult, “we will continue to evacuate as many people as we can with our capabilities and all that is available on the ground.”
PARIS — France claims it has evacuated more than 570 people from Kabul since Monday onboard its military aircraft.
The Defense Ministry stated that Friday night’s fourth evacuation plane arrived in Paris with 4 French citizens and 99 Afghans. These were mostly people who had worked for the French government in Afghanistan.
According to the ministry, state services and France’s embassy have been relocated to Kabul airport. They are “fully mobilized” to provide new flights as quickly as possible.
Monday’s promise by Macron, the French president, was that France would not abandon Afghans working for it and that France would protect journalists, artists and activists who were under threat following the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan.
WASHINGTON — According to the U.S. Air Force, the cargo plane carrying Afghan refugees that was widely shared online carried 823 people. This is a new passenger record.
The Air Mobility Command made a brief statement on Friday stating that the C-17 that left Kabul on Sunday had a total of 640 passengers. However, that number inadvertently included 183 children who were sitting on laps.
According to the statement, the C-17’s record of 823 passengers was broken. The Taliban invaded the city and the plane took off. This prompted thousands of Afghans to rush to the airport to seek flight out, with some even reaching the tarmac.
THE HAGUE (Netherlands) — The first group of Afghans to be evacuated from Kabul by Dutch military transport planes has reached a barracks located in northern Netherlands, which has been converted into a temporary accommodation centre.
Friday’s ministry statement stated that 28 Afghans were taken to Zoutcamp, a small village located 180 km (120 miles) north Amsterdam.
According to Dutch authorities, they have managed five flights from Kabul so far with almost 300 passengers. It is unclear how many were Afghans.
The Dutch government wants to evacuate Afghan nationals, their families and those who served the country’s military in its deployment as well as the embassy staff and aid project staff.
MILAN — Italy claims that its military has evacuated almost 1,000 Afghan citizens from Kabul in the past five days.
According to the Defense Ministry, two flights with 207 Afghans arrived in Rome Saturday from Kuwait. Italy uses this airport as a staging area for the Kabul evacuations.
Italy has sent more than 1,500 soldiers to serve as airbridge pilots between Kabul and Kuwait on four C130J aircraft and to transport evacuees safely to Italy aboard four KC767s.
Italy launched Operation Aquila Omnia, which it has called “Operation Aquila Omnia”. It has brought to safety 1,532 Afghan citizens so far. On Saturday, eighty arrived at a base located in South Tyrol (northern Italy) for a 10-day COVID-quarantine.
A video was distributed by the ministry showing an Afghan man being brought to the base. He thanked the “Italian armed forces”, who did not leave Afghanistan alone. They brought us away despite all the difficulties.” He said that the two-day journey took him backwards to the camera. We are tired. We are happy. He said that we are happy.