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Coordination on U.S. Leaving Afghanistan Proceeds

Aug. 29, 2021 (EIRNS)—Both Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid and U.S. Central Command spokesman Capt. Bill Urban reported today that the U.S. had carried out a strike today against a vehicle close to the Kabul airport (adjacent to the runway, according to some media reports) which was carrying one or more suicide bombers. Mujahid offered few other details, several news agencies reported, but Captain Urban reported that “U.S. military forces conducted a self-defense unmanned over-the-horizon airstrike today on a vehicle in Kabul, eliminating an imminent ISIS-K threat to Hamid Karzai International Airport,” and that “significant secondary explosions from the vehicle indicated the presence of a substantial amount of explosive material.”

Urban also stated that the U.S. military was “assessing the possibilities of civilian casualties,” but had none at the time. Media in Afghanistan were reporting later in the day that seven Afghan civilians had died in the incident, as the U.S. drone strike had destroyed two vehicles and partially ruined a residential house.

Secretary of State Tony Blinken, for his part, was grilled on the ABC and NBC Sunday talk shows on what will happen come Sept. 1, when the U.S. has handed the Kabul airport over to the Taliban, and yet still says it intends to keep helping Afghans who wish to leave out of the country. Blinken responded on both shows by pointing to statements from “a very senior Taliban official [who] went on television and radio across the country on Sunday, and repeatedly assured people in Afghanistan that they would have the freedom to travel after Aug. 31st. He even specifically said those who worked for the Americans and those who want to leave for whatever reason will have that freedom. Now, of course, we don’t take the Taliban at their word. We take them by their deed, and that’s what we’re going to be looking to.”

The State Department likewise issued a statement today signed by 114 countries, which said similarly to Blinken: “We have received assurances from the Taliban that all foreign nationals and any Afghan citizen with travel authorization from our countries will be allowed to proceed in a safe and orderly manner to points of departure and travel outside the country. We will continue issuing travel documentation to designated Afghans, and 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.”

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