According to a Pentagon spokeswoman, 169 Americans were evacuated from a hotel near Kabul airport by US military helicopters.
In remarks on Friday, President Joe Biden stated that 169 Americans had been evacuated. According to John Kirby, the Pentagon’s chief spokesperson, Biden was referring to persons who were extremely close to the airport’s perimeter.
Another countries notified US authorities that the Americans had congregated at the Baron Hotel near the airport, and three Chinook helicopters rescued them on Thursday, Kirby said to CNN and The New York Times on Friday.
“It was a very quick, safely performed operation,” Kirby told CNN.
On Saturday, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul warned Americans to stay away from the Kabul airport due to “potential security threats outside the gates,” showing an increasingly desperate effort to escape the Taliban.
U.S. officials said that the Islamic State, which rivals the Taliban, was the most serious current threat to Americans and Taliban’s sense of control.
Since the Taliban took control of Kabul about a week ago, chaos has erupted around the international airport.
According to both sites, the Baron Hotel is a designated gathering point for Afghan refugees, and the Americans intended to travel roughly 200 yards to the Abbey Gate entry to the airfield, but a large throng formed at the gate and several Americans felt threatened.
Earlier in the day, US planes out of Kabul to rescue Afghans fleeing the Taliban were halted for many hours after Qatar indicated they were at capacity, but the commander in Kabul had given the order for outbound flights to begin, Biden said.
Biden also said in his remarks, “any American who wants to come home, we will get you home.”
Since Aug. 14, U.S. military aircraft has evacuated approximately 13,000, Biden added.
The U.S. military footprint in Kabul is currently approximately 5,800 troops, Army Maj. Gen. William “Hank” Taylor, joint staff deputy director for regional operations, said in an update Friday afternoon.
The deadline for total U.S. troop withdrawal from the 20-year war is the end of the month.
Evacuations efforts are increasing, Taylor added, noting that on Friday 16 C-17 aircraft and one C-130 aircraft departed Kabul within a 24-hour period, with a total of 6,000 passengers, including a couple hundred American citizens.
On Friday, groups of armed Afghans against the Taliban also made some progress by retaking three northern districts seized by the Taliban, Puli Hisar, Dih Salah and Bano, The Washington Post reported.