Afghanistan collapse: US has processed almost 5,000 for evacuation from Kabul

A ‘somber’ briefing on Afghanistan with very few answers

Fox News national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin summarizes the Joint Chief of Staff’s update: ‘The picture they painted was bleak.’

The U.S. military has evacuated nearly 5,000 people from Kabul in the last several days, including about 2,000 in the last 24 hours, the State Department said on Wednesday as the U.S. continues to try and remove American citizens and Afghan allies while the Taliban secures its grip on the country.

“In the last 24 hours U.S. military flights evacuated approximately 2000 more people,” Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman told reporters. “Over the last several days we have processed more than 4,840 people for evacuation.”

Sherman said that officials had communicated directly with all U.S. citizens who are enrolled with the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, and that approximately 800 Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders are being invited to board flights.

Sherman said that the situation on the ground was “enormously challenging and fluid” and said that the department was engaged in an “all hands on deck effort.”

“We are beginning to expand our notifications and are expanding them to transmit information about evacuation options to each group,” she said. “We will also continue to accelerate our efforts, including by working with our allies and partners and NGOs to identify and assist Afghans eligible for . . .  refugee status and other Afghans at risk.”

The U.S. has been working against the clock to try and evacuate as many Americans and Afghan allies out of the country as possible, as the Taliban secure their grip on the country ahead of the planned U.S. withdrawal at the end of the month.

Afghanistan fell much quicker than officials anticipated, leading to scenes of chaos at Kabul airport as people tried to board flights out of the country.

“There was nothing, that I or anybody else saw that indicated a collapse of this army and this government in 11 days,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said at a press briefing Wednesday.

President Biden has authorized 6,000 U.S. troops to deploy to Afghanistan to assist in the evacuation mission, as the Taliban push to restore the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan – the formal name of the country under the Taliban rule before militants were ousted by U.S.-led forces in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

But U.S. officials are privately warning that it will be “challenging” to meet Biden’s Aug. 31 deadline to withdraw U.S. troops.

“We are still ramping up,” one official told Fox News Wednesday. 

Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson and Brooke Singman contributed to this report.

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