The U.S. has airlifted about 7,000 people out of Kabul by cargo aircraft in the past 5 days, the Pentagon said on Thursday, as U.S. forces race to evacuate as many people as possible with less than two weeks before a self-imposed deadline to pull out of Afghanistan.
Since the end of July, the U.S. has evacuated approximately 12,000 people from Afghanistan, a figure that includes American citizens, U.S. embassy staff, citizens of NATO countries, at-risk Afghan nationals as well as Afghan nationals who have qualified for special immigrant visas.
U.S. Army Maj. Gen. William “Hank” Taylor said that while the U.S. military can airlift approximately 5,000 to 9,000 people a day out of Kabul, that figure is dependent on “who is on the airfield, ready to leave a holding area and get on the aircraft.”
More than 2,000 people were evacuated on C-17 aircraft in the past 24 hours, Taylor said. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby estimated that about 300 of the passengers were Americans. Kirby told reporters Thursday he does not know how many U.S. citizens are left in Afghanistan.