August 31 evacuation deadline looms in Afghanistan

By Melissa Coade

Monday August 30, 2021

United States targets suspected bomber, Taliban assures safe passage for eligible civilians beyond August.
United States targets suspected bomber, Taliban assures safe passage for eligible civilians beyond August. (Defence)

US officials confirmed that its armed forces launched a drone strike on Sunday against a suspected suicide car bomber headed to the Hamid Karzai airport in Kabul. A car was destroyed in the targeted strike, as well as a nearby house that was hit by a second strike.

According to SBS News, local media reports have suggested there were possible civilian casualties in the US attack, which are being assessed. Children are also reported to have died from the strike.

The strike comes a few days after a suicide bomber was able to infiltrate the crowds of people waiting outside the Harmid Karzai International Airport, killing over 100 people. Among the dead were 13 US personnel – 11 marines, a Navy medic and member of the Army. Another nearby bomb, by a terrorist from the Islamic State Khorasan group, was detonated at a hotel.

“The 13 service members that we lost were heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice in service of our highest American ideals and while saving the lives of others,” a statement from US president Joe Biden read.

“Their bravery and selflessness has enabled more than 117,000 people at risk to reach safety thus far.”

Thursday’s attack at the airport saw Australia confirm that its evacuation mission from Kabul was over.

Emergency evacuation flights supported by France ended on Friday and those by British forces concluded on Saturday. 

Two days remain for US troops to withdraw all foreign civilians and locals who want to leave Afghanistan according to a. August 31 deadline the international power agreed to with the Taliban.

Meanwhile, leaders of the new Taliban regime have offered assurances to leaders of 100 nations – including Australia, New Zealand, the US, and the UK — that ‘all foreign nationals and any Afghan citizen with travel authorisation’ will be allowed to leave safely.

A statement published online by the UK government and signed by the EU, NATO, and other allied forces said that members of the international community were ‘committed to ensuring that our citizens, nationals and residents, employees, Afghans who have worked with us and those who are at risk can continue to travel freely to destinations outside Afghanistan’.

“We have received assurances from the Taliban that all foreign nationals and any Afghan citizen with travel authorisation from our countries will be allowed to proceed in a safe and orderly manner to points of departure and travel outside the country,” the statement said. 

The statement went on to say that travel documents would continue to be issued to designated Afghan nationals.

“We have the clear expectation of and commitment from the Taliban that they can travel to our respective countries. We note the public statements of the Taliban confirming this understanding,” the statement read.


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