American troops made a brief foray outside of the airport at Kabul last week to help bring 169 Americans into Hamid Karzai International Airport, according to U.S. officials.
Department of Defense spokesman John Kirby said the group of Americans was “very close to the perimeter of the airport, very close, and in a short amount of time, with a short amount of distance, some of our troops were able to go out there and bring them in,” according to NTD.com.
“The original plan was for the Americans to gather themselves up at the Baron (Hotel) and walk through the Abbey gate. The gate is right here. So you can see from the hotel to the gate,” Kirby said, according to Military Times.
Biden FALSELY says the Taliban is providing safe passage for Americans heading to the airport.
Meanwhile, “U.S. Embassy tells Americans NOT to go to Kabul airport due to security threats”https://t.co/tHixut6nm0
— Kayleigh McEnany (@kayleighmcenany) August 21, 2021
However, that plan failed to anticipate the scope of the crowd.
“There are tens of thousands of Americans and Afghans literally at the gate,” said Sunil Varghese, policy director for the International Refugee Assistance Project, according to The New York Times. “This could have been completely avoided if evacuation was part of the military withdrawal.”
And so, on Wednesday, the military went to Plan B.
“There was a large crowd established outside the Abbey gate ― a crowd, that, that not everybody had confidence in, in terms of their ability to walk through it.
Has Joe Biden totally bungled Afghanistan?
“And so, local commanders on the scene took the initiative and flew these helicopters out there to pick them up,” Kirby said, per the Military Times.
Three Army Chinook helicopters flew to the hotel’s landing zone and back, Kirby said.
1️⃣ All gates at Kabul airport are closed.
2️⃣3 U.S. Army CH-47 helicopters picked up 169 Americans outside Kabul Airport
— Mohammed Soliman (@ThisIsSoliman) August 21, 2021
The episode was the first time since the United States closed its embassy and took up positions at the airport that troops have left the airport on a mission.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Wednesday that U.S. forces did not “have the capability to go out and collect up large numbers of people,” according to NTD.com.
Kirby said U.S. troops have moved about outside the airport perimeter, however.
“Soldiers have helped (people) outside the perimeter of the airport get to where they need to go,” he told the Military Times.
“Thousands, maybe tens of thousands, crushed as far as the eye can see. At the front, Taliban militants beat Afghans with canes.”@ramsaysky reports from Kabul airport on the “desperation” as thousands queue in the hope of fleeing Afghanistan.
Read more: https://t.co/Nrh0z3BvoQ
— Sky News (@SkyNews) August 21, 2021
However, he acknowledged on Saturday that reports are emerging of Americans who have been ill-treated by the Taliban as they try to reach the airport, according to CNN.
“We are aware of sporadic cases where they aren’t being allowed, where there is some harassment going on, and yes some physical violence has occurred, and as the Secretary has made clear … that’s unacceptable,” Kirby said.
CNN reported that the military is developing what it calls “alternative routes” to reach the airport after a threat from the Islamic State on Saturday.