On Friday, President Joe Biden issued a speech in regards to the current state of the excavation of American citizens from Afghanistan, saying that the plan is to trust that the Taliban will let these Americans out.
Leaving the briefing room after answering a few questions from selected reporters, Biden was bombarded with the question: "Why do you continue to trust the Taliban, Mr. President?"
When asked whether he will send troops into Kabul to help American citizens get through to the airport, Biden claimed he's seen "no indication" that the Taliban are impeding access.
"To the best of our knowledge, the Taliban checkpoints, they are letting through people showing American passports," Biden said.
"Since I spoke to you on Monday, we have made significant progress. We've secured the airport, enabling flights to resume, not just military flights but civilian charters from other countries, and the NGOs taking out civilians and vulnerable Afghanis," said Biden in his televised speech set for 1 pm that ran behind schedule.
Biden said that there are almost 6,000 troops on the ground, "including the 82nd Airborne providing runway security, the Army 10th Mountain Division standing guard around the airport, and the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit assisting the civilian departure." The president went on to add that "this is one of the largest, most difficult airlifts in history."
"And the only country in the world capable of projecting this much power on the far side of the world with this degree of precision is the United States of America," the commander-in-chief said.
Biden said that approximately 18,000 people have been evacuated since July, with 13,000 being evacuated since Aug. 14. Thousands more have been evacuated on civilian flights. Included in those numbers are American citizens, SIV applicants and Afghans that aided the US, with their respective families.
"The United States stands by its commitment that we made to these people, and includes other vulnerable Afghans such as women leaders and journalists," said Biden. The president said that all 204 employees of The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal have been evacuated from Afghanistan.
Addressing the temporary pause on flights leaving Afghanistan as of this morning, which have since resumed, Biden said that the pause happened so that they could process the arriving evacuees "at the transit points." Even with the pause, Biden said that 5,700 evacuees were evacuated out of the country yesterday.
He added that the Biden administration is currently trying to verify how many Americans are left in the country, adding that they still don't know the exact number of Americans in the country. "Just yesterday, among the many Americans that we evacuated, there were 169 Americans who got over the wall and into the airport using military assets," said Biden.
Biden added that they are working in close cooperation with NATO on the evacuation of allies from Afghanistan, adding that the US military aided French forces in evacuations. "We're gonna do everything that we can to provide safe evacuation for our Afghan allies, partners, and Afghans who might be targeted because of their association with the United States," he said.
"But let me be clear. Any American who wants to come home, we will get you home," Biden added.
Biden continued, noting that the evacuation mission is "dangerous, and involves risks to our armed forces, and is being conducted under difficult circumstances."
"I cannot promise what the final outcome will be, or that it will be without risk of loss. But as commander-in-chief, I can assure you that I will mobilize every resource necessary," Biden stressed.
Biden expressed his gratitude to the "brave men and women of the US armed forces" currently undertaking these evacuation efforts. "They're incredible."
He said that they are in "constant contact with the Taliban" in order to nail down the logistics of the evacuation.
Regarding reports of Americans having issues being able to get to and into the airport, Biden said that "we have thus far been able to resolve them."
"We've made clear to the Taliban that any attack on our forces or disruption of our operations at the airport will be met with swift and forceful response."
Biden added that they are also keeping a close eye on any potential terror threats that may arise at or around the airport after many ISIS and Al-Qaeda fighters and leaders were released from prison by the Taliban.
He said that the administration would retain a "laser focus" on counterterrorism efforts, working in close contact with allies.
Biden also added that they would be putting pressure on the Taliban in regards to the treatment of Afghan citizens, including women and children.
When asked by reporter Zeke Miller from the Associated Press about his response to American allies question the country’s credibility, Biden said "I have seen no question of our credibility from our allies around the world… as a matter of fact I have seen the exact opposite."
Biden's speech comes as news emerges from Afghanistan of American citizens trapped behind enemy lines facing the wrath of the Taliban, despite previous comments stating that the Taliban would allow American citizens to flee.
Sasha Ingber, with Newsy, reported that the "Situation [in Afghanistan] is rapidly deteriorating." A source in the country told her that "We've had Americans get beaten throughout the night." One American woman, she said, "was beaten 'twice' even though she was carrying a US passport."
The Pentagon reportedly said yesterday that "Americans are not being impeded as they travel to the Kabul airport," and that the "Taliban agreed to let them evacuate."
In a speech from Biden on Monday, he said that "we were clear-eyed about the risks, we planned for every contingency," conceding that "I always promised the American people that I would be straight with you. The truth is: This did unfold more quickly that we had anticipated."
This is a breaking story and will be updated.