US Troops to Stay In Afghanistan Until Eligible Afghans Can Be Safely Evacuated

President Joe Biden said Monday that US troops in Kabul would stay long enough to evacuate American citizens and eligible Afghan allies, and warned the Taliban there would be a “devastating” response to any attempt to attack or disrupt the operation.

The President admitted his administration had been caught by surprise by the speed of the Taliban victory, which he attributed to a lack of leadership from Ashraf Ghani’s ousted government and a lack of will to fight in the Afghan armed forces. As insurgents took control of the city, declaring victory after 20 years of war, tens of thousands of Afghans who have been promised resettlement in the west because of their past work with or for the US, Britain and their allies remained trapped in the country and in fear for their lives, amid reports of reprisal killings. President Biden addressed the nation after a day of chaos at Kabul airport following the fall of the Afghan capital to the Taliban, in which seven people were killed during the rush towards the sole remaining exit route out of the country.

In his address, President Biden said the American troops would stay as long as it took to carry out the evacuation, leaving open the possibility that might stretch beyond the current August 31st deadline for the final US withdrawal.

“Our current military mission is limited in scope and focused on its objectives: get our people and our allies to safety as quickly as possible,” President Biden said. “And once we have completed this mission, we will conclude our military withdrawal, and end America’s longest war.”

In his speech on Monday, President Biden defended the delay in evacuating allied Afghan civilians. “Part of the answer is some of the Afghans did not want to leave earlier, still hopeful for their country,” he said. “And part of it was because the Afghan government and its supporters discouraged us from organizing a mass exodus to avoid triggering, as they said, a crisis of confidence.”

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