American News Aug 26, 2021 1:36 AM EST

Americans stuck outside Kabul airport told to 'leave immediately' amid security threats

"We're operating in a hostile environment, in a city and country now controlled by the Taliban, with the very real threat of an ISIS-K attack," Secretary of State Tony Blinken said.

Americans stuck outside Kabul airport told to 'leave immediately' amid security threats
Ari Hoffman Seattle, WA

The US embassy in Afghanistan abruptly warned Americans stranded in the country not to travel to the Kabul airport due to terrorist threats, and asked those already at specific airport gates to leave immediately, in a statement early Thursday. The state department does not want Americans stuck outside the gates of the airport amid security threats.

"We're operating in a hostile environment, in a city and country now controlled by the Taliban, with the very real threat of an ISIS-K attack. We're taking every precaution, but this is very high risk," Secretary of State Tony Blinken said. The New York Times reports that 1,500 Americans are left in Afghanistan.

A statement from the US embassy statement from the embassy read, "Because of security threats outside the gates of Kabul airport, we are advising US citizens to avoid traveling to the airport and to avoid airport gates at this time unless you receive individual instructions from a US government representative to do so. US citizens who are at the Abbey Gate, East Gate, or North Gate now should leave immediately."

As thousands of Americans and allies who assisted coalition forces have been attempting to flee the country, chaos and confusion run through the crowd surrounding the airport. Though a limited number of US troops remain posted at the airport, Taliban soldiers have been reported outside the grounds and in the city. Compounding the situation were threats from other terrorist groups including ISIS.

Americans braving the Taliban on their way to the airport or those waiting at the gates were warned in the message to "be aware of their surroundings," and to monitor local media as to "adjust your plans based on new information." The state department advises Americans to stay away from the airport.

There have been reports of Special Immigrant Visa holders as well as US passport holders being blocked by Taliban soldiers from accessing the airport. President Joe Biden continues to hold to an August 31 deadline to withdraw US troops from the country, after the Taliban refused to extend the deadline Biden himself imposed.

The White House has claimed there are contingency plans but has continued to receive harsh criticism of the disastrous withdrawal from both sides of the political aisle. Lawmakers continue to urge Biden to extend the deadline. The administration has claimed that they do not trust the Taliban but has repeatedly negotiated with the terrorist group for access for people to the airport.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that he believed less than 1,000 American citizens remain in Afghanistan are attempting to leave, however the accuracy of those numbers have been questioned by many given the limited airport access and reconciliation of counts between those that have departed on flights and numbers of Americans still in country given earlier in the week.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, who has denied that Americans were stranded in Afghanistan, was caught by surprise during Wednesday’s daily press briefing when she was asked by a reporter about a group of California students stranded in Afghanistan.

Referencing a Los Angeles Times report that a group of students and their parents from California's El Cajon Valley School District are trapped in Afghanistan, the reporter asked, "The LA Times has a story saying that a group of students and their parents are in Afghanistan. Do you have any more information on that or is that…" Psaki cut off the reporter in surprise and said, "I do not," then asked, "Who have recently traveled into Afghanistan?"

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