WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US President Joe Biden and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi spoke about coordinating on safely evacuating citizens and Afghan nationals from Afghanistan, the White House said in a readout of the call.
"They discussed the importance of continued close coordination between their military and civilian personnel in Kabul, who are working together tirelessly to safely evacuate their citizens, Afghans who courageously supported us and NATO in the war effort, and other vulnerable Afghan nationals," the release said on Friday.
The two leaders also welcomed the opportunity for the G7 to plan a common approach to Afghanistan policy at next week’s virtual summit, the release added.
Three US Army CH-47 helicopters picked up 169 Americans outside the Kabul airport, Fox News reported on Friday.
Earlier on Friday, US officials from both the State Department and Pentagon declined to confirm the veracity of the helicopter mission earlier in the day amid reports that nearly 100 were ferried away amid the turmoil in Afghanistan.
Pentagon: 3 U.S. Army CH-47 helicopters picked up 169 Americans outside Kabul Airport— Lucas Tomlinson (@LucasFoxNews) August 20, 2021
CAIRO (Sputnik) – The United Arab Emirates will temporarily host 5,000 Afghan citizens evacuated from the country following the seizure of Kabul by the Taliban Islamist movement (banned in Russia), the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said.
“The United Arab Emirates has agreed to host 5000 Afghan nationals evacuated from Afghanistan on their way to third countries. The UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation announced that, following a request from the United States, it would host the Afghans on a temporary basis, after which time they would travel on to other nations,” the ministry said in a statement on late Friday.
The ministry added that the evacuees would arrive in the UAE on US aircraft in the upcoming days.
"The Taliban have told us the same they said publicly - that they have no intention of impeding our operations or standing in a way of those who are seeking passage to the airport," State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters on Friday.
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - A dozen countries have been engaged in US-led efforts to evacuate Americans, at-risk Afghans and third-country personnel from Kabul, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Friday.
“Over the past several days, we have mobilized a global effort through diplomatic channels to evacuate US citizens, personnel from partner nations and, of course, at-risk Afghans from Kabul,” Price said in a regular briefing. “Bahrain, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Qatar, Tajikistan, Turkey, the UAE, the United Kingdom and Uzbekistan have been, or will soon be, transiting Americans or… others through their territories to safety.”
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told US Representatives that Americans have had run ins with the Taliban (banned in Russia) in Kabul, contradicting President Joe Biden's claims that nationals were making their way to the airport unimpeded.
"We’re also aware that some people including Americans have been harassed and even beaten by the Taliban. This is unacceptable and [we] made it clear to the designated Taliban leader," Politico reporter Andrew Desiderio quoted Austin as saying in the call on Friday.
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby later acknowledged that the Pentagon was aware of reports of Americans being harassed and sometimes beaten by Taliban forces, calling the reports "deeply troubling."
Kirby added, however that Americans are "by and large" getting through Taliban checkpoints.
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The US military has resumed flights out of Kabul after being delayed for between six and seven hours due to the refugee processing facility in Qatar reaching its maximum capacity, Army Major General Hank Taylor said on Friday at a news conference on Afghanistan.
“We did pause flights earlier today leaving Kabul while we adjusted resources and personnel to ensure a temporary capacity issue at one of our stopover locations, although flight operations have resumed,” Taylor said. “We’re grateful for our allies including Germany, where flights will land today.”
The allowance of flights into Germany and other locations such as Bahrain is expected to increase the number of people the US military will be able to evacuate from Afghanistan.
The US has not built any perimeter outside of the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul due to the risk of unintended consequences, President Joe Biden said during remarks on Friday.
“The reason why we have not gone out and set up a perimeter way outside the airport in Kabul is that it’s likely to draw a lot of unintended consequences, in terms of people who, in fact, are not part of the Taliban [banned in Russia],” Biden said.
Romania's foreign ministry said on Friday it was about to evacuate fourteen members of a Romanian security firm from Kabul.
"The fourteen Romanian citizens will be evacuated by the next flight of a Romanian military jet, which is currently in Islamabad," a statement read.
The Romanians were brought to a military base outside the airport and transferred to the tarmac in an "extremely complex" operation, the ministry said.
Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu told an emergency NATO meeting on Friday that his country stood together with NATO allies in calling for unfettered access to the Kabul airport.
"What I want to assure people is that our political and diplomatic efforts to find a solution for Afghanistan, working with the Taliban, of course, if necessary, will go on," Johnson told media on Friday.
The US military has suspended flights from Kabul, Afghanistan, as a result of the refugee processing facility in Qatar reaching maximum capacity, CBS News reported on Friday.
People on the ground at the Kabul airport described the situation as "pretty much a full-blown humanitarian disaster" due to the number of Afghans seeking to leave the country, the report said.
The US government has been trying to persuade partner states to allow flights on their territory for the processing of refugees. The United States reached an agreement with Bahrain earlier on Friday to allow up to 1,000 Afghan refugees to stay for up to 14 days.
US officials were quoted as saying in the report that the State Department is expected to announce European states will be opening up for incoming flights soon. When contacted by Sputnik, the State Department declined to comment on the report.
A total of 1,982 foreign citizens have been evacuated from Afghanistan through Uzbekistan in recent days, the Uzbek Foreign Ministry said on Friday.
"In recent days, 1,982 citizens of foreign nations were evacuated through the territory of Uzbekistan," the ministry said in a statement.
"The Republic of Uzbekistan maintains close cooperation with a number of foreign nations regarding their citizens' evacuation from Afghanistan. We are currently implementing a joint effort with Germany, Russia, the United States, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Kazakhstan," the statement read.
During their short-term staying in Uzbekistan, evacuees are provided with all the necessary assistance in full compliance with coronavirus-related quarantine measures, after that they promptly leave for the countries of destination, the Uzbek Foreign Ministry added.
The United States has moved out from Afghanistan some 9,000 troops since the fall of Kabul, while the total number of those moved out from the country since July has reached 14,000, White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield said on Friday.
"We are continuing to increase those numbers every day," Bedingfield said in an interview. "Overnight, we announced that we have now moved out 9,000 people since the fall of Kabul, and 14,000 since July. So, we are taking control of the airport, flights are leaving regularly."
Earlier on Friday, the Air Mobility Command said a US Air Force C-17 Globemaster aircraft flew a record 823 Afghan civilians on a single flight out of Kabul earlier this week - the largest number of people ever carried on such aircraft.
The C-17 aircraft had carried out 640 civilians, but the number listed solely the adults and not the 183 children who were also there, according to reports.
The Defense Department aims to undertake 20-30 flights per day that would airlift approximately 5,000 people out of Afghanistan daily.
The Russian President added that it is important to prevent the Taliban invasion in countries neighbouring Afghanistan, including under the guise of refugees.
"In our opinion, it is especially important to prevent the invasion of all kinds of terrorists into states neighbouring Afghanistan, including under the guise of refugees," Putin said at a press conference following a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Resistance forces killed and injured dozens of members of the Taliban (banned as a terrorist organization in Russia) in clashes to regain control over districts of Afghanistan's north-eastern Baghlan province, a source in the province told Sputnik on Friday.
Earlier in the day, Bismillah Mohammadi, the defence minister of the former Afghan administration, announced that resistance forces regained control over Pul-e-Hesar, Deh Salah and Banu districts in Baghlan.
مقاومت علیه طالبان تروریست بر هر یک ما فرض است #ولسوالی های پل حصار، ده صلاح و بنو در بغلان به تصرف نیروهای مقاومت مردمی درآمده است.— General Bismillah Mohammadi (@Muham_madi1) August 20, 2021
مقاومت هنوز زنده است.
According to Radio Salam Watandar, three districts of Andarabs (Gesar Bridge, De Salah and Bannu) were recaptured by the Second Resistance force.
The Taliban group has not commented on this yet, the report added.
Military personnel was forced to use tear gas in Kabul airport as a crowd control measure to bar large numbers of people from breaking into the terminal, the Wall Street Journal said on Friday, citing a senior Western official.
The incident occurred a day after the Pentagon said that the US troops established control over the airport, the report said.
It was unclear what soldiers used the gas, as troops from different countries are currently present at the site, it added.
Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby earlier told reporters that US personnel fired live weapons as a crowd control tactic.
Several dozens of Afghan illegal migrants are still blocked at the Belarusian-Polish border near the Polish village of Usnarz Gorny, a Sputnik correspondent reported.
The migrants, mostly young men, are sitting on the bare ground, having only one tent. Although border guards from both sides will not give them anything, human rights defenders managed to pass some food and water on Thursday. According to the Polish border guard service, all the migrants are Afghans.
The Polish side claims the migrants are on Belarusian territory.
"Around 30 people are on Belarusian territory," a representative of the Polish border service, Katarzyna Zdanowicz, said.
The Belarusian authorities allowed women and children to return to Belarus, Zdanowicz added.
On Wednesday, Poland announced that it was s tightening security on the border with Belarus due to the migrant influx. This comes almost two months after Lithuania declared an emergency over the influx of illegal migrants from Belarus, many of them Iraqis, Iranians and Syrians.
Poland and neighbouring Lithuania have accused Belarus of letting migrants cross the border to get into the European Union in retaliation for imposing sweeping economic sanctions against Minsk. The Belarusian president, in turn, argues that his government cannot afford to enhance border security because of the sanctions.
The Taliban (outlawed in Russia) brutally tortured and "massacred" nine men of the Hazara minority in Afghanistan and looted their homes in the Ghazni province in July, a prominent international rights group said.
"Taliban fighters massacred nine ethnic Hazara men after taking control of Afghanistan's Ghazni province last month," Amnesty International said.
The London-based organisation said its researchers in Afghanistan spoke to several people who were witnesses to the brutal killings that reportedly took place between July 4 and July 5 in the village of Mundarakht, Malistan district. The report said six Hazara men were shot and three were tortured to death.
"These targeted killings are proof that ethnic and religious minorities remain at particular risk under Taliban rule in Afghanistan. We urge the UN Security Council to adopt an emergency resolution demanding that the Taliban respect international human rights law, and ensure the safety of all Afghans regardless of their ethnic background or religious beliefs," Amnesty International Secretary-General Agnes Callamard said.
Hazara people, who practice Shia Islam, make up 9% of Afghanistan's 39.9 million population. According to the rights group, they have been severely persecuted by the Taliban in the past.
The Taliban (banned as a terrorist organization in Russia) has not yet officially declared the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan but indeed plans to do it, Taliban political office spokesman Mohammad Naeem said.
"We have not declared the establishment of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan so far, but we have stated that we have such an intention from the very beginning," Naeem said.
"Forces of the Islamic Emirate" currently maintain order at the Kabul airport with the participation of foreign troops, the Taliban spokesman added.
Afghanistan certainly needs a new constitution and it will be created, Mohammad Naeem, a spokesman for the Taliban (banned as a terrorist organization in Russia) political office, said.
"There is no doubt that Afghanistan will have a new constitution," Naeem said.
The Taliban spokesman expressed the belief that Afghanistan is currently facing a "state of emergency."
"Now we need to meet the needs of the people, to overcome the vacuum and take other steps later. But in general, we do need a new constitution," Naeem said when asked whether the new constitution will be adopted through a referendum.
The US diplomatic mission in Afghanistan warned on Friday that it could not guarantee its citizens in Kabul safe passage to the airport for evacuation.
"U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and their spouses and unmarried children (under age 21) should consider travelling to Hamid Karzai International Airport when you judge it is safe to do so. The U.S. government cannot ensure safe passage to the airport," the embassy said in a travel advisory.
It added that the flights would continue to be operated until the evacuation mission is complete.
"Due to large crowds and security concerns, gates may open or close without notice. Please use your best judgment and attempt to enter the airport at any gate that is open," the message read.
The diplomatic mission warned of potential violence and security threats associated with large crowds.
On August 15, the Taliban (a terrorist group, banned in Russia) entered Kabul, prompting the US-supported civilian government to back down. The change of power resulted in thousands of Afghans trying to flee the country for fear of reprisals from the militants, adding to the hectic situation at Kabul airport.
Several government officials and police chiefs in the Afghan provinces of Laghman and Ghazni remain jailed or missing after the Taliban (banned in Russia) took power in Kabul, media said Friday.
Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesperson, said at the militants' first news conference after taking control of the capital that they would not seek revenge on their rivals. They also declared an "amnesty" across Afghanistan.
But relatives of several Afghan officials, including the governor and the police chief of Laghman, told TOLO News that they were still in Taliban custody after surrendering to the militants. The police chief of Ghazni is missing.
Japan is not considering recognising the Taliban (banned in Russia) as Afghanistan's legitimate government, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said on Friday.
"We will make the necessary decision based on national interests and in cooperation with other countries involved, including the United States. The situation now is too uncertain, so that any forecasts would be untimely," he told a news briefing.
Japan shut its embassy in Kabul and evacuated the personnel after the Taliban took control of the Afghan capital on Sunday and announced a victory in the war for Afghanistan. President Ashraf Ghani fled abroad to avoid what he described in a televised address later as "bloodshed" that could have occurred if Talibs had attacked Kabul.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis plans to hold a phone conversation on Friday afternoon with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss recent developments in Afghanistan including a possible increase in illegal border crossing, his office said in a statement.
Greece is concerned that after the takeover of the Taliban (terrorist organization, banned in Russia) in Afghanistan, there would be increased attempts to cross its border with Turkey.
Erdogan on Thursday called the European Union members states to share responsibility with Turkey on the expected increase in immigration flows from Afghanistan.
"Turkey is not going to be Europe’s migrant storage unit," the Turkish president said, according to media reports.
Greece being the south-eastern border of the European Union often sees increased immigration flows by land and sea from Turkey with the most recent events being the 2015 and 2020 refugee crisis on the borders of the two countries.
Germany will deploy two helicopters to Afghanistan to assist the military mission, including the evacuation of German citizens from dangerous hard-to-reach zones, German Ministry of Defense representative Arne Collatz said on Friday.
"We have informed the parliament that we are preparing two helicopters to send them today to the operation site and to deploy them as soon as possible," Collatz stated.
The helicopters will be used to expand the capacity of the German troops and to rescue individuals from some dangerous remote zones, the defence ministry representative added.
An Uzbekistan Airways aircraft with 190 Afghan refugees on board has landed in Frankfurt, a spokesperson for Tashkent International Airport said on Friday.
After the security situation in Afghanistan worsened, Uzbekistan served as an intermediate evacuation point for Afghan nationals seeking escape to foreign countries. On Thursday, the Uzbek transport ministry told Sputnik that Tashkent loaned its aircraft to Germany for evacuation at the request of the German embassy in Uzbekistan.
"The Uzbekistan Airways plane delivered on Friday morning 190 passengers to Frankfurt as part of evacuation flights," the spokesperson said.
This is the third special flight of the Uzbek air carrier evacuating Afghans to Germany. Berlin continues to evacuate its citizens and Afghan nationals from the Central Asian country, with over 1,000 people already transported to Tashkent since the operation began.
On 15 August, the Taliban (terrorist organization, banned in Russia) entered Kabul, causing the US-backed civilian government to collapse. The change of power has forced thousands of Afghans to depart from the country for fear of reprisals from the militants, adding to the hectic situation at Kabul airport.
A German citizen sustained a gunshot injury on his way to the Kabul airport, his life is not in danger, and he will be soon evacuated from the country, German cabinet spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer said on Friday.
"One German citizen sustained a gunshot injury on his way to the Kabul airport, he received medical assistance, his life is not in danger. He will be evacuated soon," Demmer said at a briefing.
A total of 1,600 people, including 1,000 Afghans, have already been evacuated, the spokeswoman added.
Kazakhstan does not recognise the Taliban (terrorist organization, banned in Russia) government in Afghanistan and has not established any political contacts with the movement, Kazakh Deputy Foreign Minister Akan Rahmetullin said on Friday.
"We have not recognized the Taliban," Rahmetullin stated.
There are no political-level contacts between Kazakhstan and Afghanistan, senior diplomat added.
On Thursday, the Kazakh foreign ministry announced that they were following closely the developments in Afghanistan and supported the United Nations Security Council statement on the need to create an inclusive government in the country, representing all society strata, and having high regard for ethnic minorities’ rights, women rights and international law.
"Compliance with these requirements will be a necessary condition for launching a dialogue with the new Afghan government," Rahmetullin said.
"UNHCR remains concerned about the risk of human rights violations against civilians in this evolving context, including women and girls," Spokesperson Shabia Mantoo said.
The head of the Taliban's political office in Doha, Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, has asked India to retain its diplomatic presence in Afghanistan, vowing to ensure the mission's safety, the Hindustan Times reported on Friday, citing sources.
The informal request was made shortly before India evacuated about 200 people, including its diplomatic and security personnel on Monday and Tuesday, the Indian media outlet reported.
Stanikzai conveyed in his message to the Indian side that the Taliban were aware of New Delhi's concerns over the security situation in Kabul following the militants' August 15 seizure of power, telling them not to worry about the safety of its mission, according to the informed sources.
India has reviewed the request but came to the conclusion that it should not be accepted and that the evacuation of the diplomats should proceed as planned.
The Taliban conducted a search of closed Indian consulates in the Afghan provinces of Kandahar and Herat, in a bid to hunt down Afghans who collaborated with foreign diplomatic missions, the Indian NDTV reported on Friday, citing government sources.
On Wednesday, the Taliban militants "searched closets" of the Indian diplomatic mission in Kandahar for documents. They also seized parked cars.
India has another consulate in Mazar-i-Sharif and an embassy in Kabul.
Since their takeover of the Afghan capital, members of the radical movement have been conducting manhunts for Afghans who worked with the government agencies.