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Afghanistan withdrawal deadline approaches

Posted at 8:37 AM, Aug 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-24 11:37:52-04

(KERO) — The Pentagon says it's "pushing limits" to try to complete the evacuation from Afghanistan within the next week.

The Taliban is now drawing a line demanding all American forces withdraw by Aug. 31st.

Here's the latest as the deadline fast approaches.

At Kabul International Airport the end of the month is coming too quickly.

The U.S. is trying to hit its self-imposed Aug. 31st deadline to complete the evacuation from Afghanistan.

"In the days remaining, we believe we have the wherewithal to get out the American citizens who want to leave Kabul," said Jake Sullivan, White House national security adviser.

The Taliban warning there will be "consequences" if it takes any longer.

A firefight at the airport Sunday that left one Afghan security member dead underscoring the tense security situation as the us tries to maximize the number of people it can fly out.

The military flew more than 10,000 people out of Kabul in 24 hours and another 5,000 on charters and other flights. A new record and a pace that must continue.

"We are pushing the limits to do everything we can to get every single evacuate out of Kabul," said Gen. Steve Lyons, commander of U.S. transportation command.

In order to speed up evacuations the pentagon activating the civil reserve air fleet for only the third time using 18 aircraft from commercial carriers like United and American to move evacuees from the Middle East onward.

For now though the U.S. is prioritizing getting American citizens out.

Several thousand have left the country already, the Pentagon says.

A senior state department official says there are still several thousand more.

The pentagon acknowledging helicopters have left the airport not once but twice to pick up evacuees.

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby was hinting at more.

"On occasion, where there's a need and there's a capability to meet that need, our commanders on the ground are doing what they feel they need to do to help Americans reach the airport,"

For now, The U.S. embassy in Kabul is telling Afghan special immigrant visa applicants and evacuees not to come to the airport until they are told.

With potentially little more than a week left of this evacuation effort fear of a totalitarian Taliban regime is growing.

The brother of an Afghan interpreter received letters from the Taliban: A court date for helping U.S. troops and shielding his brother. And then a notification of his death sentence.

"These court decisions are final and you will not have the right to object," the third and final letter reads. "You chose this path for yourself and your death is [imminent], god willing."

There are still some 13,000 people at the airport and more trying to get through every day.

But a new terror threat from ISIS-K, an offshoot of ISIS in the Middle East, is forcing the U.S. to develop alternate routes to the airport for safety. Even when there is so little time left to evacuate.