Washington [US]: The Pentagon on thursday (local time) said that the US footprint in Kabul is now over 5,200 total troops on the ground.
Speaking at a press briefing in the Pentagon, US Army Major General William “Hank” Taylor said, “The US footprint in Kabul is now over 5,200 total troops on the ground. Kabul Airport remains secure and open for flight operations.” Providing an update on US evacuations from Afghanistan Taylor said that since the start of evacuation operations on August 14, the US has evacuated approx 7,000 total evacuees.
The cumulative number of people moved out of Afghanistan is somewhere near 12,000.
“This increase is reflective of both a ramp-up of aircraft and airlift capability, faster processing of evacuees and greater information and fidelity in reporting,” Taylor said in a Pentagon briefing.
Taylor did not provide a breakdown of numbers on evacuees but said that it included American citizens, US embassy personnel, others designated as Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants and other evacuees in coordination with the State Dept.
“We’re ready to increase throughout and have scheduled aircraft departure as accordingly. We intend to maximize each plane’s capacity, we’re prioritizing people above all else. And we’re focused on doing this as safely as possible with absolute urgency,” he said.
In the past 24 hours, 13 C-17 US military airplanes arrived in Kabul with “additional troops and equipment,” Taylor said, and 12 C-17 military planes departed, he added.
Earlier, President Biden said in an interview yesterday that there are still between 10,000 to 15,000 Americans in Afghanistan and the US estimates between 50,000 to 65,000 Afghan partners and their families are trying to get out of the country.
The Taliban took control over Afghanistan on Sunday after entering the presidential palace in Kabul.
With the Taliban in control of Afghanistan, most countries are racing to evacuate their citizens from Kabul’s airport and shutting their embassies temporarily.
The situation continues to deteriorate at the airport and around its perimeter, which is under Taliban control.