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Taliban spokesperson says group is no longer allowing Afghans to leave country

Afghanistan evacuation
Posted at 9:36 AM, Aug 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-25 16:15:31-04

The Taliban said Tuesday that it would no longer allow Afghans to leave the country amid U.S. military evacuations.

According to CNBC and CNN, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said during a press conference Tuesday night that the group would continue to block the road leading to the airport in Kabul, and that Afghans would not be allowed through those checkpoints.

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"We are not allowing the evacuation of Afghans anymore, and we are not happy with it either," Mujahid said, according to CNN.

On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said 19,000 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan in the last 24 hours. Psaki said 90 flights flown out of Kabul, saying that's one flight every 39 minutes.

As of Aug. 14 approx. 82,300 people evacuated.

When asked about the controversial visit to Kabul airport by Rep. Seth Moulton and Rep. Peter Meijer, Psaki said, "We were not aware when they were en route."

Psaki added that they are looking at a range of options on how the US can provide "consular support" for those who want to leave Afghanistan after Aug. 31.

When asked about contractors reportedly charging thousands of dollars for seats on charter flights out of Afghanistan, Psaki said, “We are evacuating people free of cost because that is the right step to take. And certainly, we wouldn’t be supportive of profiting off of people who are desperate to get out of a country.”

Among those fleeing the country amid the Taliban's takeover are translators who assisted U.S. forces during the last 20 years of conflict in the country.

The U.S. has promised that those translators would be given special immigrant visas if they apply through the State Department, though some have reported logistical hurdles in getting their status cleared.

The announcements came the same day that the Taliban noted that it would oppose any extension to the Biden administration's self-imposed Aug. 31 deadline to evacuate personnel from the country.

Biden himself said Tuesday that he plans to stick to the deadline and maintained that the military is "on pace" to complete evacuations. He also called on the Taliban to cooperate with U.S. officials and allow evacuees safe passage out of the country.

Biden added that contingency plans are being drawn up in the event an extension is needed.