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White House Says 7,800 Evacuated From Kabul In 24 Hours – But ISIS Threat To Airport Is ‘Real’ And ‘Acute’

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at August 22, 2021

Topline

The White House said Sunday 7,800 people were evacuated from Afghanistan in the last 24 hours, but warned that reported threats by the Islamic State to the Hamid Karzai Airport, the staging ground for flights out of the country,  are “real” and “acute.”

Key Facts

Jake Sullivan, President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, said in a CNN interview that 3,900 people were evacuated by the military and another 3,900 evacuated by foreign partners and commercial aircraft in the last 24 hours.

Those figures were confirmed by a White House official, who said there have been 25,100 evacuations since Aug. 14 and 30,000 since the end of July.

Sullivan said reported threats by the terror group ISIS-K against the airport, which is being used to evacuate Americans and Afghans who assisted the U.S., are “real, acute and persistent.”

The threat has proved credible enough to force the U.S. military to establish “alternate routes” for people to get to the Karzai airport, according to CNN, which quoted an anonymous defense official warning of a “strong possibility” of an attack.

Sullivan said the administration is focused on the ISIS threat with “every tool in our arsenal,” adding that commanders on the ground have a “wide variety of capabilities” to defend the airport and U.S. intelligence is working to “isolate” the threats.

Key Background

The Karzai airport has been mired in chaos since the Taliban took control of Kabul with shocking speed earlier this month, leaving Americans and Afghans applying for U.S. visas scrambling to evacuate the country. The airport has been inundated with unruly crowds and gatekept by multiple Taliban checkpoints where, the Pentagon has said, Taliban soldiers have beaten some people making their way to the airport. At least seven civilians were killed in the crush outside the airport on Sunday, according to the Associated Press.

Big Number

100. That’s roughly how many attacks against civilians in Afghanistan the three-year-old ISIS-K is responsible for, the Center for Strategic and International Studies told Reuters. Biden said in a speech last week the U.S. is “keeping a close watch” on ISIS affiliates in Afghanistan who were released from prisons. The Taliban and ISIS-K are fierce opponents.

Tangent

The 7,800 figure represents a significant escalation in evacuations from previous days. The White House said Saturday 3,800 people were evacuated from Afghanistan in the previous 24 hours – due in part to an hours-long pause on Friday – after reporting 5,700 evacuations the day earlier.

Crucial Quote

“We cannot give you a precise number, but we believe that it is several thousand Americans we are working with now to get safely out of the country,” Sullivan said in the interview, pinning the uncertainty on some Americans never registering or deregistering with the U.S. embassy in Afghanistan.

Tangent

The Defense Department on Sunday activated 18 commercial aircraft from six airlines to transport Americans and Afghans out of temporary waystations in order to free up military aircraft to make flights to and from Kabul.

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