Taliban warns of ‘consequences’ if US delays withdrawal

US President Biden to decide on extension of August 31 withdrawal deadline as Taliban warns against ‘extending occupation’ – as it happened.

The Taliban will not agree to an extension of the evacuation mission from Afghanistan and is “warning of consequences” if it is prolonged beyond its deadline.

The move would mean “extending occupation” and that is “a red line”, Suhail Shaheen, a member of the Taliban delegation in Doha, the capital of Qatar, said on Monday.

United States President Joe Biden is expected to decide as soon as Tuesday on whether to extend that August 31 deadline to airlift Americans and their allies to safety.

A NATO official has said that at least 20 people have died in and around the airport in the past week as American citizens and vulnerable Afghans attempt to get to the facility.

An Afghan security guard has been killed in a firefight between unknown gunmen and Afghan forces at the north gate of Kabul airport, the German military said.

Three more people were injured in the gun battle on Monday morning that has also involved German and US forces, the German military said on Twitter.

This blog is now closed.

Below are key developments from Monday, August 23.

G7 leaders plan to pledge unity on Taliban recognition, sanctions: report

Leaders of the G7 advanced economies are expected to pledge unity on whether to officially recognize or sanction the Taliban when they meet virtually to discuss Afghanistan on Tuesday, two diplomatic sources told the Reuters news agency.

US allies are still smarting from Washington’s delays in outreach after Kabul fell on August 15, and foreign diplomats in the US capital said cooperation will be a key theme of the call.

“The G7 leaders will agree to coordinate on if or when to recognize the Taliban,” said one European diplomat. “And they will commit to continue to work closely together.”

Leaders of the United States, United Kingdom, Italy, France, Germany, Canada, and Japan may use the possibility of unified official recognition, or renewed sanctions to push the Taliban to comply with pledges to respect women’s rights and international relations, according to the Reuters report.

US officials laud evacuation operation despite chaos

US officials have continued to defend the Biden administration’s policies in Afghanistan and laud the evacuation operation despite the chaos unfolding in Kabul.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said President Joe Biden is undeterred by criticism of his approach to Afghanistan.

“His focus right now is on taking the steps and making the decisions that he feels are in the interest of our national security and the American people,” Psaki said of Biden.

“And that may mean that there are chaotic scenes; that may mean that there are people disapproving of his decisions. He understands that and accepts that.”

Read more here.

US legislators urge Biden to extend Kabul operation beyond August 31

US legislators have urged President Joe Biden to take “immediate action to improve and stabilize” the evacuation of American citizens and US allies, including by extending the operation at Kabul airport beyond the August 31 deadline.

A letter signed by 15 elected members from both major parties also called on the administration to push to streamline special immigrant visas for Afghans and consider expanding the security perimeter around Hamid Karzai International Airport to facilitate access to it.

Chaos and violence as crowds keep growing outside Kabul airport

The crowds outside Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport continue to grow with each passing day of Taliban rule.

What was initially a few hundred families outside the roundabout leading to the main entrance in the days since the Taliban first took over the city on August 15 has now ballooned to thousands of desperate men, women and children squatting around a run-down filling station, dirt fields, small patches of grass and nearly any other expanse of land near the gates leading to the non-civilian areas of the airport.

Read more here.

Kabul airport Afghanistan [Ali M Latifi/Al Jazeera]
A crowd of thousands gathers near the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan [Ali M Latifi/Al Jazeera]

US says it is not part of intra-Afghan talks

The United States has not been involved in talks between Afghan parties since the Taliban took Kabul, US Department of State spokesperson Ned Price said, stressing that Washington believes a political settlement in Afghanistan must be ” Afghan-owned and Afghan-led”.

“We were never part of the intra-Afghan dialogue,” Price said.

He added that while Washington is in touch with the Taliban as well as representatives of the Afghan government and other stakeholders in the country, it is merely facilitating talks without direct participation.

OPINION: The new and improved Taliban – The parting US gift to Afghanistan

The Taliban blitzkrieg that dismantled 20 years of neocon and liberal imperialism in Afghanistan has also marked an ignoble end to all manners of pretences, writes Hamid Dabashi.

Twenty years ago, the United States pretended it was going to Afghanistan to dismantle the Taliban, destroy al-Qaeda, and bring Afghans peace, prosperity, liberal democracy and rule of law. Above all, it acted as if it was invading Afghanistan to liberate Afghan women from their burqas and make them all look just like American women.

Read more here.

Three babies born on US military flights evacuating Kabul: US General

Three women fleeing Afghanistan have given birth on US military planes as they were being evacuated from the country, US Army General Stephen Lyons told reporters at the Pentagon in a media briefing on Monday.

The US air mobility command had announced in a tweet on August 22 that a woman safely delivered a daughter on a flight from a staging base in the Middle East to Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

“I really appreciate the news being reported on the baby being born as that flight came into Ramstein airbase. There’s actually been more than that. So it’s just an incredible, incredible operation,” said Lyons, who heads the US military’s transportation operations worldwide.

Lyons said he has reports of at least two other births on US military evacuation flights, but was unable to provide additional details at this time.

Afghans in Qatar share hopes and fears after fleeing the Taliban

Inside a muted grey, nondescript compound in the Qatari capital of Doha, urgent efforts are under way to ensure the immediate safety of hundreds of Afghan refugees who fled the Taliban and to secure their future.

Since the Taliban overran the Afghan military and government about a week ago, the international airport in the Afghan capital of Kabul has been crowded and chaotic with people desperate to flee Afghanistan.

Read more here.

Afghan refugees in Qatar on August 22, 2021 [Showkat Shafi/Al Jazeera]

Afghan refugees arrive in Northern Virginia

A group of Afghan refugees has arrived in Northern Virginia as part of the US evacuation operation. They are being temporarily housed at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, Virginia before they are taken to military bases.

“It’s a very private reception. It’s sealed off …  to stop the cameras [from] seeing what’s happening. But we’ve had buses arriving, and they’re coming fairly steadily in the last few hours … each housing around about 50 or so migrants, of all ages and both sexes,” Al Jazeera’s correspondent Phil Lavelle reported from the Dulles Expo Center.

Four military bases across the US are building capacity to host about 25,000 Afghans.

People arrive at a processing centre for refugees evacuated from Afghanistan at the Dulles Expo Center near Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, Virginia, the US on August 23, 2021 [Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]

Spain says it could receive up to 4,000 Afghans at two military bases

Spain could temporarily host up to 4,000 Afghans who had worked for the US at two military bases used by the US military in southern Spain, Defence Minister Margarita Robles said on Monday.

Robles said that under the agreement reached between Madrid and Washington, the Afghans could stay in Spain for up to two weeks.

The agreement follows a deal reached over the weekend by US President Joe Biden and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to host Afghans at the Rota (Cadiz) and Moron de la Frontera (Seville) airbases.

Extending withdrawal deadline is only up to Biden: US official

In response to the Taliban’s objection to the possible extension of the August 31 deadline for US troops to leave the Kabul airport, the US national security adviser said the movement of American forces is up to US President Biden only.

“Ultimately, it will be the president’s decision how this proceeds; no one else’s,” Jake Sullivan said at a news briefing.

Still, he confirmed that Washington is “engaging” and “consulting” with the Taliban on “every aspect of what’s happening in Kabul right now”.

US Marine Corps soldiers at an evacuation control checkpoint during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan [US Marine Corps/Staff Sgt. Victor Mancilla/Handout via REUTERS]

UN draft Afghanistan resolution ‘weakest possible’ response: HRW

Rights groups voiced outrage that a draft resolution on Afghanistan before the United Nations’ top rights body fails to order an international investigation into rights abuses in the war-shattered country.

But the text presented on Monday by Pakistan, as the coordinator of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, only makes a reference to the need for an investigation, and stops short of ordering an international probe.

The text “recommends the weakest possible response”, Patricia Gossman, an associate Asia director for Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.

“For Afghan human rights defenders and women’s rights activists who are watching in horror as the rule of law crumbles around them, the draft resolution is more of an insult than a response,” Gossman said.

Humanitarian concerns in Afghanistan being obscured amid evacuations: WHO director

The international community’s focus on the air operations out of Kabul airport is obscuring the issue of the “largest humanitarian operation in the world” in Afghanistan, something that was ongoing even before the fall of the previous government, according to Richard Brennan of the World Health Organization.

“With the 18.4 million people in need of humanitarian assistance … our ability to bring aid in to respond to that need has been blocked because all commercial aircraft have been stopped coming in, into the [Kabul] airport,” Brennan, acting regional emergency director for WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean office, told Al Jazeera from Cairo.

“We have 500 metric tons of medicines and supplies in our logistics hub in Dubai that would usually come in last week, even prior to current events, and we’ve been trying for days and days now to transport them in. But that’s not been possible.”

People cross a street near a market area in Kabul on August 23, 2021 [Hoshang Hashimi/AFP]

Canada’s Trudeau leaves door open to Taliban sanctions as G7 meeting looms

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau left the door open to sanctions on the Taliban, noting that the group that now controls Afghanistan remains a “terrorist entity”.

“Canada already recognises, and has for long, that the Taliban are terrorists, and harbor terrorists. That’s why they’re on the terrorist list. So, yes, we can talk about sanctions,” Trudeau told reporters.

On Tuesday, leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) wealthy nations – Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States – will meet virtually to discuss Afghanistan.

Taliban fighters travel on a vehicle mounted with the Taliban flag in the Karte Mamorin area of Kabul [Hoshang Hashimi/AFP]

Greece urges EU to help Afghan neighbours avoid migrant wave

Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called on the European Union to help countries neighbouring Afghanistan to stop a new influx of migrants into Europe from the Taliban-controlled country.

The return of the group to power in Kabul on August 15 has plunged the future of many Afghans into uncertainty and sparked concern that millions may head to Europe as they flee the war-torn country.

Mitsotakis said, “It is important for the European Union to support the countries close to Afghanistan, in order to make sure that we won’t have additional flows in Europe”.

Pakistan FM urges Afghan political agreement

Pakistan‘s foreign minister has urged the Taliban and other leaders in neighbouring Afghanistan to try to reach an inclusive political settlement as soon as possible.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi issued the appeal at a news conference ahead of his upcoming visit to several regional countries, including Iran, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

Qureshi said it was a good sign that the Taliban were already talking to some other Afghan leaders, including former President Hamid Karzai.

US exit deadline a ‘moveable feast’: AJ correspondent

Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Kabul, Rob McBride, said it still remained to be seen whether the Taliban would follow up on their threats if the US delayed its exit from Afghanistan.

“This deadline is something of a moveable feast. Originally it was set for May 1. That was under the Trump administration’s peace deal with the Taliban last year. As part of that deal, the Taliban have agreed to hold talks with the then Afghan government. They didn’t hold talks, so Joe Biden felt justified in April when he extended the deadline to the symbolically very important September 11th,” McBride said.

“Since then, Biden in July brought the deadline forward to August 31. So he set that deadline; in theory, he can now unset it. The Taliban has threatened before with the extension of deadlines … that it would take action, that it would target US troops. I think it remains to be seen whether that’s going to happen.”

US will evaluate troop extension beyond August 31 if needed: Pentagon

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the US military is striving to evacuate as many people as possible from the airport in Kabul “by the end of the month” and will evaluate whether to remain past the August 31 deadline set by President Joe Biden for removal of all US troops.

If Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs Chair General Mark Milley “get to a point where they need to provide that advice and counsel to the president, they would absolutely do that”, Kirby told reporters at a Pentagon media briefing on Monday.

Kirby said “we have seen the statements” by Suhail Shaheen, a member of the Taliban delegation in Doha, the capital of Qatar, earlier on Monday that extending occupation would be a “red line”.

“We all understand that view,” Kirby said.

US Pentagon spokesman John Kirby [File: Andrew Harnik/AP Photo]

France sees need for Afghan evacuations beyond US deadline: Minister

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that Paris believed it necessary to continue Afghan evacuations beyond Washington’s August 31 deadline following the Taliban takeover.

“We are concerned about the deadline set by the United States on August 31. Additional time is needed to complete ongoing operations,” Le Drian told reporters at the UAE’s Al-Dhafra airbase, where France has set up an air bridge for people evacuated from Kabul.

Germany says about 5,000 waiting to evacuate Kabul

Germany’s top military commander says he believes that about 5,000 people are waiting at the Kabul airport to be flown out.

General Eberhard Zorn said Monday the figure has declined from about 7,000 at the weekend.

He says: “We are now trying internationally to reduce this number as far as possible to make room for others … and above all, ultimately to cushion somewhat the precarious accommodation and waiting situation there.”

A family walks with their bags upon arrival at Frankfurt Airport in Germany, on August 18, 2021, after being evacuated from Kabul, Afghanistan [Thilo Schmuelgen/Reuters]

Jordan says it will let 2,500 Afghans pass through on way to US

Jordan has agreed to allow 2,500 Afghan citizens to pass through the kingdom as they fly to the US, the foreign ministry said.

It did not say when the arrangement, agreed with Washington on humanitarian grounds, would come into force.

Russia warns of civil war but will not ‘intervene’ in Afghanistan

Russia warned of the risk of a civil war in Afghanistan, but said that it does not intend to intervene.

Potentially, there is a “risk of a renewed civil war in Afghanistan,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday, according to the Interfax news agency.

“Of course, no one intends to intervene in these events,” Peskov said.

Russia is watching the Taliban’s takeover in Afghanistan with concern. Among other things, it fears that fighters in Central Asia could penetrate into former Soviet territory.

Peskov said the current situation posed “additional danger and threats”.

Germany looking at evacuations after Kabul airport closes

Germany is looking into ways to evacuate people from Afghanistan beyond the window of opportunity to fly them out of Kabul airport, a foreign ministry spokesman says.

“As long as the situation on the ground allows, we want to keep the air bridges active and evacuate people from Kabul airport,” the spokesman told a regular government news conference in Berlin.

“However, we are already thinking beyond this period and are already trying to find solutions for the time after[wards],” he said, adding that Germany was talking with the Taliban about enabling as many people as possible to leave Afghanistan.

Qatar is an ‘impartial mediator’ amid Afghanistan evacuations: FM

Qatar is working as an “impartial mediator” in dealings with the Taliban while aiding ongoing evacuations of foreign nationals and vulnerable Afghans from the country, Qatar’s foreign minister said.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani said the Gulf state – which hosted talks between the US and Taliban that culminated in the 2020 agreement to withdraw US and foreign troops as well as hold subsequent intra-Afghan peace talks – is using its unique position to stress to the Taliban the “importance of acting and behaving as an engaging party over there as part of the Afghan society”.

Read more here.

Taliban name acting head of central bank

The Taliban have appointed an acting head of the Afghanistan central bank to help ease growing economic turmoil, more than a week after the group seized the capital Kabul, a statement says.

Haji Mohammad Idris was named as acting governor of the central bank to help bring order to a war-crippled economy, which has been adrift for more than a week with banks closed and many government offices empty.

He was expected to help organise institutions and address the economic issues facing the population, a statement from Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid speaks at his first news conference [Rahmat Gul/AP]

Iran resumes fuel exports to Afghanistan after Taliban request

Iran restarted exports of gasoline and fuel oil to Afghanistan a few days ago, after receiving a request from the Taliban, Iran’s Oil, Gas and Petrochemical Products Exporters Union says.

“The Taliban sent messages to Iran saying ‘you can continue the exports of petroleum products’,” Hamid Hosseini, union board member and spokesperson in Tehran, told Reuters news agency, adding that some Iranian traders had been cautious due to security concerns.

Iranian exports began a few days ago, after the Taliban cut tariffs on imports of fuel from Iran up to 70 percent, Hosseini added.

UK not set on hard deadline for evacuation: PM’s spokesperson

The United Kingdom still wants to fly thousands of people out of Afghanistan and has not set a hard deadline for when evacuations will end, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesperson says.

“We have not set a hard deadline for when the evacuation procedure will end,” the spokesperson said. “We will continue to run our evacuation process as long as the security situation allows, like I said this will be a topic of discussion tomorrow, and we need to flexible in our approach.”

People who want to flee Afghanistan continue to wait around Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul [Sayed Khodaiberdi Sadat/Anadolu Agency]

US evacuated over 10,000 people over 24 hours

The US military flew approximately 10,400 people out of Kabul over 24 hours on Sunday, and 61 coalition planes helped evacuate approximately 5,900, a White House official said on Monday.

Since August 14, the US has airlifted 37,000 people out of Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, or helped with their evacuation, the official said.

French ministers to travel to UAE to discuss Afghanistan

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Defence Minister Florence Parly are going to the Al-Dhafra airbase in the United Arab Emirates on Monday to meet people involved in Afghan evacuation operations.

During their visit, the French ministers will also meet the country’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and they will discuss the situation in Afghanistan, added a statement from the French government.

Swiss airlift about 100 people out of Afghanistan

Switzerland has been able to get around 100 people – including the first local staff working for the Swiss development agency – out of Afghanistan after Taliban fighters took control of the country, the Swiss foreign ministry says.

A 300-seat Swiss International Air Lines charter aircraft took off from Zurich on Monday bound for the Uzbek capital Tashkent to bring back to Europe people who were previously evacuated from Kabul, it added in a statement.

Crowds continue to surround the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan [Sayed Khodaiberdi Sadat/Anadolu Agency]

Putin stresses need to prevent spillover of ‘radical Islam’ from Afghanistan

Russian President Vladimir Putin told leaders in Central Asia on Monday that it was vital to avoid any spillover of “radical Islam” into the region from Afghanistan and to keep “Islamist extremists” at bay, the Kremlin said.

Putin, in comments at an online summit of regional leaders, also said it was important to keep a close eye on the Afghan drug trade, the Kremlin said.

At the meeting, Putin and Central Asian leaders voiced concerns that the ISIL (ISIS) armed group still had a foothold in Afghanistan and was a threat, the Kremlin said. The leaders agreed to coordinate joint action on Afghanistan, it said.

Read more here.

Taliban: No extension to foreign troop deadline for evacuations

The Taliban will not agree to an extension of the evacuation mission from Afghanistan, a spokesman for the group told British news channel Sky News.

“If the US or UK were to seek additional time to continue evacuations – the answer is no. Or there would be consequences,” said Suhail Shaheen, a member of the Taliban delegation in Doha, the capital of Qatar.

“It’s a red line. [US] President [Joe] Biden announced that on August 31 they would withdraw all their military forces. So if they extend it that means they are extending occupation while there is no need for that.”

He added: “It will create mistrust between us. If they are intent on continuing the occupation it will provoke a reaction.”

Taliban says its fighters retook three northern districts

Taliban forces have recaptured three districts in northern Afghanistan that fell to local militia groups last week, according to a Taliban spokesman.

The districts of Bano, Deh Saleh, and Pul e-Hesar in Baghlan province were taken by local militia groups in one of the first signs of armed resistance to the Taliban since their seizure of the capital Kabul on August 15.

By Monday, Taliban forces had cleared the districts and were established in Badakhshan, Takhar and Andarab near the Panjshir Valley, according to the Twitter account of spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.

Iran calls for restraint, ‘inclusive’ Afghanistan government

Iran’s foreign ministry has called on “all parties” in Afghanistan to refrain from using violence, saying Tehran supports the establishment of an “inclusive” government in Kabul.

“All groups and political parties [in Afghanistan] must refrain from using force and proceed using negotiation and talks,” ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told reporters at a televised press conference in Tehran.

Iran “is in constant communication with all political sides in Afghanistan” and “supports the peaceful transition of power to an inclusive government,” he added, stressing that “the crisis has no military solution”.

Khatibzadeh said Iran hoped that such a government would be able to build a “safe, blooming and stable Afghanistan” using the “opportunity” of foreign forces’ withdrawal.

The Taliban and Islamic law in Afghanistan

The Taliban has assured women of their rights “within Islamic law”, but what it means remains ambiguous.

Read more here.

Women walk through a road in Ghazni, Afghanistan [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

WHO says cannot fly medical supplies into Afghanistan

The World Health Organization says that 500 tonnes of medical supplies including surgical equipment and childhood pneumonia treatments due to be delivered to Afghanistan this week are stuck because of Kabul airport restrictions.

“They were ready and planned to be delivered to Afghanistan to arrive this week. But now that the airport is closed to commercial flights, we can no longer get them in,” said spokesperson Inas Hamam in an emailed statement to Reuters news agency.

She said the WHO was calling for empty planes to divert to its storage hub in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to collect the supplies on their way to pick up evacuees from the country.

Hungary evacuates 173 people from Afghanistan

Hungary has evacuated 173 people, including many at the request of the United States and Austria, from Afghanistan on a plane that arrived in Budapest via Uzbekistan earlier on Monday, according to Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto.

He also said US troops at Kabul airport “should not hinder” people who Hungary wants to fly out from getting into the airport to board the planes.

Women on the front lines of a new Afghanistan

Reporter Mellissa Fung reflects on what’s at stake for women under Taliban rule.

Read more here.

A woman at one of the first shelters for abused women in Kabul in 2014 [Mellissa Fung/Al Jazeera]

Afghans struggle with jobs gone, banks shut, prices on the rise

A week after the Taliban’s lightning-quick seizure of Kabul, growing numbers of people in the Afghan capital are facing a daily struggle to get by with their jobs gone, banks still shuttered and food prices soaring.

The thousands crowded outside the airport entry points and fighting for seats on flights out of Kabul have provided the starkest image of the turmoil in the city since the Western-backed government collapsed.

Read more here.

Uncertainty, stress for Afghan cricketers as Taliban takes over

The crack of a bat on a ball echoes around Kabul’s international stadium as Afghanistan’s top cricketers prepare for their next tour – just days after the Taliban took over the country, forcing President Ashraf Ghani to flee.

The calm of the empty stadium is a stark contrast to scenes just a few kilometres north, where tens of thousands of Afghans at Kabul airport are desperately trying to flee on evacuation flights.

Read more here.

Afghanistan’s national cricket team players attend a training session at the Kabul International Cricket Ground in Kabul [Hoshang Hashimi/AFP]

Afghans living in India demand refugee status

Hundreds of Afghans living in India have protested against the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and also demanded refugee status in India. They rallied outside the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in New Delhi, demanding justice and better futures for Afghan children and women.

Most said they fled to India more than 10 years ago but were still not recognised as refugees. They fight to live a dignified life within a complex bureaucratic process to register as refugees in India.

Read more here.

People hold signs as they protest outside the UNHCR office in New Delhi to urge the international community to help Afghan refugees [Anushree Fadnavis/Reuters]

Taliban say Afghan resistance force ‘besieged’, but seek talks

The Taliban has said its fighters had surrounded resistance forces holed up in Afghanistan’s Panjshir Valley but the group was looking to negotiate rather than take the fight to them.

The announcement follows scattered reports of clashes overnight, with pro-Taliban social media accounts claiming gunmen were massing, and Afghanistan’s former vice president saying resistance forces were holding strong.

Taliban fighters “are stationed near Panjshir”, spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted, saying they had the area surrounded on three sides. “The Islamic Emirate is trying to resolve this issue peacefully,” he added.

Taliban retakes power, but six challenges face the group

Al Jazeera takes a look at six challenges facing the armed group as it prepares to rule the country of 38 million for the second time since 2001.

Read more here.

A Taliban fighter stands guard at a checkpoint in the Wazir Akbar Khan neighbourhood in Kabul [Rahmat Gul/AP]

Qatar receives thousands of Afghan refugees

Qatar has evacuated thousands of people from Afghanistan and is hosting them before they are moved to other countries.

Al Jazeera’s Jamal Elshayyal has been to the Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, where flights are arriving. He said the evacuees included mostly students.

“The pressure that has been put on the Qatari military as well as its allies here at Al Udeid has been huge, because the influx of the refugees coming in has been far greater than the capacity to house them. There were issues with where they would sleep, the air conditioning in the really harsh summer heat of Qatar,” he said.

“The authorities here at the airbase from the American side said they have been able to relocate several hundred of these refugees to a location 15 minutes away from here.”

UK’s Johnson to push Biden for Afghan deadline extension

United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson will ask US President Joe Biden to extend the evacuation deadline from Afghanistan when Group of Seven (G7) leaders discuss the crisis on Tuesday, two UK ministers said.

James Heappey, minister for the armed forces, and James Cleverly, a foreign office minister, said the UK was pushing for the deadline to be pushed beyond August 31 to increase the number of people it can help who want to flee the Taliban.

Heappey told Sky News that about 4,000 people who were eligible to come to the UK were still in Afghanistan and the government wanted to evacuate thousands more if it could.

Read more here.

Kabul evacuation brings 193 people to Belgium

A charter flight arrived at a Belgian airbase outside Brussels, carrying 193 people escaping the chaos in Kabul.

The Air Belgium jet brought the escapees – including Belgians and Afghans who worked for international missions – from an Islamabad base acting as a staging post for Belgium’s military airlift from the Afghan capital.

Monday’s charter was the first evacuation back to Belgian soil. The arrivals were to be transferred from the Melsbroek base, home of Belgium’s 15th Air Transport Wing, to a military base in Peutie for health checks and security screening.

Firefight at Kabul Airport involving Afghan, US, German forces

A firefight broke out between Afghan security forces and unknown assailants at the north gate of Kabul airport, the German military says on Twitter.

One Afghan security force member was killed and three others were injured in the battle, which also involved US and German forces, the army said.

All German soldiers remained uninjured, it said.

The Taliban took over Kabul, Afghanistan on August 15 [Stringer/EPA]

Foreign forces have not sought to postpone exit: Taliban official

Foreign forces in Afghanistan have not sought to extend the August 31 deadline they have set for leaving the country, a Taliban official tells the Reuters news agency.

Japan to send military plane to repatriate citizens from Afghanistan

Japan will send a military plane later on Monday to Afghanistan to bring back its citizens, the top government spokesman says.

More military transport planes are expected to be dispatched to Afghanistan to repatriate not only its own citizens but also Afghans working at the Japanese embassy or with Japanese missions, Katsunobu Kato, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, told a press conference.

Taliban fighters patrol in Kandahar [Stringer/EPA]

US seeks to boost Afghan airlift operations

A chaotic race to help tens of thousands of people escape Taliban-run Afghanistan was boosted on Monday with the US ordering its commercial airlines to help, though President Joe Biden said the evacuations could go beyond next week’s deadline.

Speaking at the White House, Biden acknowledged the searing scenes at the airport, which have included babies and children being passed to soldiers over razor-wire fences and men clinging to the outside of departing planes. But he said they were part of the cost of departure.

“There is no way to evacuate this many people without pain and loss and heartbreaking images you see,” he said.

In an effort to ramp up the airlift, the US government ordered six leading commercial airlines to fly back to the US those who have been evacuated from Kabul to US bases in the Gulf and Europe.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies