The Latest: Britain urges US to extend Kabul evacuations
LONDON — Britain is urging the United States to extend its evacuation effort in Kabul beyond the current Aug. 31 deadline, saying without the Americans other countries will have no choice but to stop their own operations to help people fleeing the Taliban takeover.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to press President Joe Biden at an emergency meeting of Group of Seven leaders on Tuesday convened by Britain.
Some U.K. military leaders have said Britain should keep troops at Kabul airport to continue the evacuation effort even if the Americans leave. But Armed Forces Minister James Heappey said Monday that “there is a hard reality that there would be no international airlift without the way that the U.S. are underpinning it.”
He said that “whether or not the U.S. can be persuaded to stay is a matter for the prime minister tomorrow in the G-7 meeting.” He said that an agreement from the Taliban would also be needed for an extension.
Biden has not ruled out extending the airlift beyond the Aug. 31 deadline he set before the Taliban’s swift takeover in Afghanistan, but he said he hoped it would not be necessary.
Britain says its forces have evacuated more than 5,700 people — chiefly U.K. citizens and Afghans — from Kabul in the last 10 days, 1,821 of them in the past 24 hours.
MORE ON THE CRISIS IN AFGHANISTAN:
— Gunfire at Kabul airport kills 1; Taliban mass near Panjshir
— Kabul airlift is accelerating but still hampered by chaos
— When the music stops: Afghan ‘happy place’ falls silent
— For Afghan refugees in India, hopes dim for returning home
— ‘Imbecilic’: Ex-UK leader Tony Blair slams Afghan withdrawal
— Find more AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/afghanistan
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
KABUL — France’s envoy to Afghanistan says French special forces backed by the U.S. army have helped 260 Afghans who worked with the European Union delegation to get to Kabul airport.
Ambassador David Martinon said in a tweet early on Monday that “they have been welcomed at the French Embassy’s waiting area prior to boarding. Bravo to the EU.”
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell says around 400 Afghanis who worked with the bloc’s delegation are to be granted protection in Europe. They’re being sent to Spain for screening before being shared out among EU countries willing to grant them visas.
BERLIN — The German military says a firefight broke out at the Kabul airport’s north gate early on Monday between Afghan security forces and “unknown attackers.”
The military said in a tweet that one Afghan security officer was killed and another three were wounded in the early morning incident. It said that U.S. and German forces then also got involved, and that there were no injuries to German soldiers.
Later, the German military clarified that the Afghan officer was a member “of the Afghan army” — Afghan troops who are involved in securing the airport as part of the multinational operation.
There was no further information and it wasn’t known who the attackers were. The Taliban, who are manning the outside perimeters of the Kabul airport, have until now not opened fire on NATO or Afghan troops within.
Monday’s incident took place after at least seven Afghans died in a panicked crush of people trying to enter Kabul’s international airport on Sunday, the British military said. Thousands were still trying to flee the country in a chaotic exodus a week after the Taliban takeover.
The German Defense Ministry said Monday that the country’s military has evacuated more than 2,700 people from Kabul since the evacuations started, with people of 38 nationalities among those taken out. German A400M transport aircraft are shuttling between Kabul and Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — A plane with Norwegian citizens from Afghanistan, others with links to Norway and also other foreign nationals landed in Oslo on Monday, the fourth flight in the past days to have landed in Norway.
The Scandinavian country’s foreign ministry declined to say how many were on the plane or give details for safety reasons, the Norwegian news agency NTB said.
In neighboring Sweden, Foreign Minister Ann Linde said Monday that more than 170 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan. “I am pleased that we can now welcome local employees, at the same time as we continue to work to evacuate more local employees,” she said.
Denmark too has been active in evacuating people from Afghanistan. Finland said that so far the total number of its evacuees was at 110. They include citizens from Finland and people with permanent Finnish residence, “along with other persons who have been working for Finland, the EU and NATO, together with their families.”
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is raising concerns that the Islamic State poses a threat as American troops seek to evacuate thousands of U.S. citizens and Afghan allies from Afghanistan.
Biden in remarks at the White House on Sunday noted that the terror group is a “sworn enemy of the Taliban” and said that the longer U.S. troops are on the ground increases the chance that the group will attempt to strike innocent civilians and American personnel near the Hamid Karzai International Airport.
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul has been warning Americans to avoid traveling to the airport in part because of concerns about Islamic State fighters.
The extremist group has long declared a desire to attack America and U.S. interests abroad and it has been active in Afghanistan for a number of years, carrying out waves of horrific attacks, mostly on the Shiite minority.
The group has been repeatedly targeted by U.S. airstrikes in recent years, and faced Taliban attacks.
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden says 11,000 individuals were evacuated from Kabul over the weekend and he remains committed to assisting all Americans who want to leave Afghanistan get out.
Biden added Sunday that his first priority is getting American citizens out of Afghanistan “as quickly and safely as possible.”
In the president’s words: “We’re working hard and as fast as we can to get people out. That’s our mission. That’s our goal.”
Biden also says he is also activating the civilian reserve air fleet provided by commercial airlines to help move evacuees from third country waystations on to the United States.