Evacuation flights from Afghanistan have resumed a day after the Taliban’s military takeover caused panic in Kabul and thousands crowded the city’s international airport in a desperate attempt to leave the country.
A Western security official informed the Reuters news agency on Tuesday that the Kabul airport’s tarmac and runway – which troops from the United States control – were now free of crowds. The official said military flights conveying diplomats and civilians from Afghanistan have started taking off.
Not less than seven people died in Monday’s chaos, including several people who held on to sides of a jet as it took off.
In Washington, DC, US President Joe Biden stressed that he stood “squarely behind” his decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and fired scorching criticism at the country’s former Western-backed leadership for failing to counter the Taliban.
“I stand squarely behind my decision,” he said in a broadcast address from the White House. “After 20 years, I’ve learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw US forces.”
Meanwhile the Taliban have declared the war in Afghanistan over and a senior leader said the group would delay until foreign forces had left before designing a new governance structure.
China revealed that it was ready for “friendly relations” with the Taliban, while Russia and Iran also made diplomatic approaches.
Bush calls for safe passage for Afghan refugees, without ‘bureaucratic delay’
The former US president, George W Bush, has called on his country to expedite the evacuation of Afghans who aided Washington’s war effort.
“The Afghans now at the greatest risk are the same ones who have been on the forefront of progress inside their nation,” he said in a communique.
“The United States government has the legal authority to cut the red tape for refugees during urgent humanitarian crises. And we have the responsibility and the resources to secure safe passage for them now, without bureaucratic delay. Our most stalwart allies, along with private NGOs, are ready to help.”