US forces begin final phase of evacuations from Afghan capital amid warnings of a ‘specific, credible threat’ at airport.
The United States warned of a “specific, credible threat” near the Kabul airport on Sunday as its forces rushed to complete evacuations from Afghanistan by an August 31 deadline and the Taliban prepared to take charge of the key airfield.
In a security alert, the US Embassy in Kabul warned of an attack at specific areas of the Kabul airport, including its access gates as US President Joe Biden told reporters in Washington DC his commanders informed him another “attack is highly likely in the next 24-36 hours”.
Scores of Afghan civilians and 13 US troops were killed on Thursday when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives at the Kabul airport. The attack was claimed by the Islamic State in the Khorasan Province (ISKP or ISIS-K).
A Western security official said US forces were in the final phase of their evacuation operations and about 1,000 civilians inside the airport remain to be flown out.
Here are the latest updates:
US in ‘final phase of evacuations from Kabul’
A Western security official told the Reuters news agency that US forces are in the final phase of their evacuation from Kabul and just over 1,000 civilians inside the airport remain to be flown out before troops are withdrawn.
The official, who asked not to be identified, said a date and time for the end of the operation was yet to be decided.
“We want to ensure that every foreign civilian and those who are at risk are evacuated today. Forces will start flying out once this process is over,” said the official, who is stationed at Kabul airport.
Taliban waiting for ‘final nod’ to take control of Kabul airport
A Taliban official says the group was prepared to take charge of the Kabul airport.
“We are waiting for the final nod from the Americans to secure full control over Kabul airport as both sides aim for a swift handover,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
The Taliban’s engineers and technicians were ready to take control, the official added.
US warns of ‘specific, credible threat’ near Kabul airport
The US Embassy in Kabul is urging all Americans in the vicinity of the Hamid Karzai International Airport to leave the area immediately because of a “specific, credible threat”.
The warning early on Sunday morning said US citizens should avoid traveling to the airport and avoid all airport gates at this time. It specifically noted the South (Airport Circle) gate, the new Ministry of the Interior, and the gate near the Panjshir Petrol station on the northwest side of the airport.
“Due to a specific, credible threat, all US citizens in the vicinity of Kabul airport… should leave the airport area immediately,” the security alert said.
US military, ally flights took 2,000 out of Kabul on Saturday: White House official
United States military and coalition flights took approximately 2,000 people out of Kabul on Saturday, a White House official said.
The evacuations took place over a 12-hour period between 07:00-19:00 GMT, the official said, as reported by the Reuters news agency.
Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. For updates from yesterday, August 28, go here.