Digital Desk, New Delhi. The US has announced that it will take strong action against the terrorist group ISIS-K, which has claimed responsibility for the twin suicide bombings at Kabul airport that killed more than 100 people, including 13 US Marines.
“I want to tell you that we’re going to do everything we can to make sure we stay focused on ISIS-K, understand that network and the future,” US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Wednesday. Let me hold them accountable for this at our chosen time. Austin did not appear committed to Washington’s relationship with the Taliban in the future.
Austin also emphasized that the US is working with the Taliban on a very narrow set of issues and does not wish to make any pre-emptive statements as to how things will shape up in the future.
Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said it was possible that the US would have to coordinate with the Taliban for any future counter-terrorist attacks in Afghanistan against Islamic State terrorists or others.
However, he said the Taliban is a brutal organization and whether they change or not remains to be seen. He went on to say that in combat you do what you must to reduce the risk to the mission and the Force.
Meanwhile, two days after Major General Chris Donahue boarded the final flight from Kabul airport to end America’s longest war, the White House, the US State Department and the country’s Defense Department launched an intense, large-scale operation. More details have been released, which is not out yet.
India Narrative has put together some key excerpts for its readers:
How many Americans are still left in Afghanistan?
The US State Department believes that there are 100 to 200 Americans living in Afghanistan who may have some interest in leaving the country. Diplomatic efforts are ongoing to ensure a safe passage for them and for any Afghan partners and foreign nationals who still wish to leave Afghanistan.
According to US President Joe Biden, there is no time limit to the effort to ensure safe passage for those who want it. Another thing to be noted is how many soldiers were involved in the non-combat evacuation operation?
According to General Mark, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, between five and six thousand military personnel were deployed on the ground, some of whom were forward-deployed based on contingency planning. These belonged to personnel from the 82nd Airborne Division, Special Forces, Marine Corps as well as Navy and Air Force.
How many people has the US evacuated from Afghanistan?
The United States evacuated nearly 6,000 American citizens and a total of more than 124,000 civilians, including at-risk Afghans. US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said that we did all this in the midst of a pandemic and in the midst of serious and growing threats.
How many flights were carried out by the US military and other allies?
A total of 778 tactical flights evacuated a total of 124,224 people, including about 6,000 US citizens, third country citizens and Afghans designated by the US State Department. Of these 778, 387 were US military C-17 and C-130 flights and the remaining 391 were non-US military flights enabled by the US military.
Where were the people evacuated from Kabul taken?
The evacuation mission was conducted in nine countries in Europe and the Middle East and 26 intermediate staging bases and temporary safe shelters. Qatar has become the largest evacuation site, with more than 65,000 Afghans and others taking safe haven through the Gulf. Afghan refugees were subjected to biometric and biographical screening before being brought into the United States or processed for a third country.
How many people have actually taken asylum in the US?
From August 17 to August 31, 31,107 people have reached the US as part of the evacuation operation. Of those, 4,446, or about 14 percent, are US citizens; 2,785, or about 9 percent, are lawful permanent residents (LPRs) and the remaining 23,876 individuals, which is about 77 percent, are at-risk Afghans.
Another big question remains, is the evacuation mission over?
The Afghan task force continues to work round the clock on evacuation efforts. Since August 14, the task force has been engaging US citizens in Afghanistan, making more than 55,000 phone calls and accessing more than 33,000 emails. The US says this process is still ongoing and will continue for as long as is needed in the coming days and weeks.