Afghanistan collapse: State Dept says 6,000 people processed for evacuation at Kabul airport
U.S. allies alarmed by Taliban takeover in Afghanistan
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The State Department on Thursday said that 6,000 people, including Americans, have been processed for evacuation at Kabul airport amid continuing efforts to get U.S. citizens and Afghan allies out of the country.
“Since Aug. 14 we’ve airlifted 7,000 total evacuees. I can also confirm there are 6,000 people at the airport who have been fully processed by our consular team and will soon board planes,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.
Price said that American citizens and green-card holders are given first priority to board and that the U.S. has “significantly expanded” the amount of people being flown out.
The U.S. has been scrambling to get allies and Americans out of Afghanistan as the Taliban has taken the country and secured the capital of Kabul ahead of the planned U.S. withdrawal at the end of the month. The Taliban takeover has led to frantic scenes at the airport as Afghans have tried to board planes to get out.
But there have been multiple reports of people being blocked from getting to the airport, while Fox News has reported on Taliban beatings of people trying to make their way.
The U.S. Air Force has evacuated 2,000 people in the past 24 hours — far less than the 5,000 to 9,000 a day the Pentagon has said is the goal. Each C-17 transport plane took off Thursday with roughly 180 people per flight, far short of its 300-person maximum capacity.
On Thursday, Price said the State Department was aware of “congestion” around the airport. He also acknowledged that there is “a small handful of reports from American citizens” who weren’t able to reach the airport.
Meanwhile, Fox News has learned that the State Department is looking into non-military ways to stage and move Americans and others who are in Kabul, as an alternative to military forces being deployed for rescues.
In response to a request for comment from Fox News, the State Department said, “Our first priority is the safety and security of the American people and we will continue to uphold that commitment.”
Separately, Pentagon officials have said there are now multiple gates that have access to Kabul’s airfield, which they said “will help expedite processing in a safe and orderly manner.”
Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson, Rich Edson and Jacqui Heinrich contributed to this report.
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