As it happenedended1629503497

Biden speech: Pentagon contradicts president and reveals Taliban beating Americans en route to airport

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'We will get you home': Biden promises to evacuate every American from Afghanistan

US President Joe Biden delivered an address to the nation for the second time this week, as the evacuation of Americans and allies from Afghanistan continues.

Mr Biden, who said this week “chaos” was unavoidable with his country's withdrawal from Afghanistan, addressed concerns about the evacuation of Americans, allies, and Afghan refugees, amid reports that the effort is falling behind.

The president vowed to Americans in Kabul “we will get you home”, but is being criticised for saying that there were no reports of people being stopped from reaching the airport by the Taliban who took control of the city on Sunday.

Reporters on the ground have many examples of people held back from accessing the airport by Taliban fighters and there are reports of physical violence and intimidation. The Pentagon then appeared to contradict the president’s statement.

Senator Lindsey Graham has threatened the president with impeachment if one American or Afghan ally is left behind in Kabul.

It remains unclear exactly how many people are awaiting airlifts from the country before an agreed deadline of 31 August, after Afghanistan fell into the hands of the Taliban last weekend.

The US military has evacuated 13,000 people since 14 August, and 18,000 since late July. In the past 24 hours 5,700 people have been airlifted as the operation begins to meet capacity levels of 5,000 to 9,000 per day as detailed by the Pentagon.

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Lindsey Graham threatens Biden with impeachment

Senator Lindsey Graham claimed Joe Biden should be impeached if any Americans or Afghan allies are left behind in the US withdrawal.

Mr Graham said the US was “duty-bound” to evacuate every US citizen and “honour-bound” to do likewise for the Afghan interpreters and contractors who aided the American occupation.

“If we leave one American behind. If we don’t get all those Afghans who stepped up to the plate to help us out then Joe Biden, in my view, has committed a high crime and misdemeanor under the Constitution and should be impeached,” the Republican Senator from South Carolina told Fox & Friends on Friday.

Lindsey Graham threatens Biden with impeachment

President will have committed a ‘high crime and misdemeanor’ if any Americans or Afghan allies are left behind, top Trump ally says

Oliver O'Connell20 August 2021 05:02
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Lindsey Graham threatens Joe Biden with impeachment

Senator Lindsey Graham claimed Joe Biden should be impeached if any Americans or Afghan allies are left behind in the US withdrawal.

Mr Graham said the US was “duty-bound” to evacuate every US citizen and “honour-bound” to do likewise for the Afghan interpreters and contractors who aided the American occupation.

“If we leave one American behind. If we don’t get all those Afghans who stepped up to the plate to help us out then Joe Biden, in my view, has committed a high crime and misdemeanor under the Constitution and should be impeached,” the Republican Senator from South Carolina told Fox & Friends on Friday.

Bevan Hurley reports.

Lindsey Graham threatens Biden with impeachment

President will have committed a ‘high crime and misdemeanor’ if any Americans or Afghan allies are left behind, top Trump ally says

Oliver O'Connell20 August 2021 05:08
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US government looking for new destinations for evacuation flights

With capacity reached in Qatar, the US government is looking for new destinations for evacuation flights out of Kabul — including in Europe.

Oliver O'Connell20 August 2021 05:21
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At least 11 US governor have asked to take Afghan refugees

The US government said it will settle 22,000 refugees seeking asylum after fleeing from Afghanistan, with 11 state governors announcing plans to take the refugees, but questions remain about the efficacy of the resettlement process.

Anuj Pant has the story.

Governors offer to take 22,000 Afghan refugees as Pentagon reveals where they will go

‘Too many things have to go 100% correctly’ to execute plan of moving out asylum seekers, says one US official

Oliver O'Connell20 August 2021 05:34
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Hello and welcome to The Independent’s rolling coverage of the Biden administration and the evacuation of Americans and allies from Afghanistan.

Gino Spocchia20 August 2021 12:39
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6,000 cleared for evacuation on Thursday

With a deadline of 31 August looming, tens of thousands remain to be airlifted from Afghanistan — a figure thought to include Americans and Afghans who worked with the US, as well as their families — who were unable to leave the country before it fell to Taliban militants.

Among the biggest issue facing Afghans fleeing the country since it fell on Sunday, are the Taliban fighters and their checkpoints which ring the airport in Kabul. Hundreds have camped outside the airport in scenes that have exacerbated fears that many are unable to reach US military assistance, and safety.

Hundreds of Afghans are also believed to lack even the papers to get through Taliban checkpoints, or fear retribution if they are unable to flee. According to The Associated Press, some of the Taliban were unable to read the US-issued paperwork, slowing down evacuations further.

On Thursday, 6,000 people were cleared by US officials for evacuation, and were expected to board military flights in the coming hours. That is an increase of about 4,000 on recent days, when aircraft have left well below capacity, of 9,000 a day.

Gino Spocchia20 August 2021 12:58
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US reverses on $2,000 evacuation fee

The Biden administration was forced into a reversal on charging $2,000 for those evacuating Afghanistan on Thursday, amid outrage that those fleeing the Taliban would be incur costs.

A spokesperson for the State Department refused to deny that it was charging the fee, when challenged by a Politico reporter. The figure also appeared on the department’s website, before it was allegedly taken down.

Hours after reports emerged, a spokesperson told The New York Post that “In these unique circumstances, we have no intention of seeking any reimbursement from those fleeing Afghanistan,”

That came as tends of thousands remain in the country, which fell to the Taliban with weeks of the US withdrawing. Many Afghans are thought to be unable to reach the airport.

Gino Spocchia20 August 2021 13:13
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US backpedals on Biden’s Taiwan remarks

The State Department was forced to issue a clarification on Taiwan on Thursday after the US president told ABC News that the disputed territory was equal with Japan and South Korea in terms of Washington DC’s defence commitments.

The suggestion by Mr Biden that US forces were deployed in Taiwan in the same way as Japan and South Korea, inferred that he would defend it from attack against China, which claims the territory.

A spokesperson for the State Department said that was not the case, and that the US still followed a position of “strategic ambiguity” policy on Taiwan. It follows debate about the presence of US forces abroad following the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban, and questions about American foreign policy.

US back-pedals after Biden suggested it would defend Taiwan

Biden’s statement was seen as a potential departure from the US longstanding position

Gino Spocchia20 August 2021 13:28
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EU allies express concerns about Kabul airport access

Allies of the US are expressing concerns about access to the international airport in Kabul, amid reports of individuals being unable to get through crowds and Taliban checkpoints — even with they can be seen from the walls surrounding the airfield by EU officials.

A member of the Polish government said on Friday that consulate staff were able to identify the individuals in the crowd outside of the airport but that it was difficult for them to make their way through to the gate, The Associated Press reported.

"There are thousands of totally determined people in the crowd, in extremely difficult conditions pressing on the walls and gates of the airport," said Marcin Przydacz Przydacz, Poland’s deputy Foreign Minister. “Even if we know where they are, and sometimes our consuls can see them 40-50 meters (yards) away, they have no possibility of getting closer”.

The Spanish has also raised concerns, and said its military aircraft were leaving Kabul partly empty because Afghans were unable to reach the airfield.

Margarita Robles, the Spanish defence minister, said on Friday that one Afghan family had lost a daughter in the crowds outside of the airport, before they were evacuated.

She added that safety corridors into the airport would allow evacuees to arrive at the airport, but that it was impossible because "nobody's in control of the situation” — although American officials had reassured her that its troops would stay the last person awaiting evacuation is out, it was reported.

Gino Spocchia20 August 2021 13:45
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‘People will be left behind’, warns former Royal Marine

A former Royal Marine in the British army has warned that “people will be left behind” in Afghanistan, after his wife was evacuated to Norway, her home country, on a flight that allegedly had hundreds of seats unfilled after taking off from Kabul.

Sharing an image of the near-empty rescue flight that took his wife home, the charity worker wrote that the aircraft was “empty”, and that it was “scandalous as thousands wait outside Kabul airport being crushed as they cannot get in”.

“Sadly people will be left behind when this mission is over as we CANNOT get it right,” added the former Royal Marine.

Anger as image shows near-empty rescue flight leaving Kabul

Former marine warns ‘people will be left behind’ after wife evacuated on plane with dozens of spare seats

Gino Spocchia20 August 2021 14:00

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