American paratrooper conducting security at Kabul's Hamid Karzai airport in Afghanistan 290821 CREDIT US ARMY cover pic
USA

Afghanistan: Biden Defends US Handling Of Withdrawal

US President Joe Biden said his administration was ready when the US-backed government in Kabul collapsed in mid-August.

American paratrooper conducting security at Kabul's Hamid Karzai airport in Afghanistan 290821 CREDIT US ARMY cover pic

US President Joe Biden is defending his handling of the American withdrawal from Afghanistan, including the frantic final evacuation from Kabul airport.

In remarks at the White House on Tuesday, Mr Biden said the American government had reached out 19 times since March, prior to his public announcement that he was going to end the US war, to encourage all American citizens in Afghanistan to leave.

He acknowledged that 100 to 200 were unable to get out when the airlift ended on Monday.

Mr Biden asserted that his administration was ready when the US-backed government in Kabul collapsed in mid-August and the Taliban then took over.

But the airlift that began on August 14 has been heavily criticised by many as initially unorganised and chaotic.

"The extraordinary success of this mission was due to the incredible skill, bravery, and selfless courage of the United States military and our diplomats and intelligence professionals," President Biden said.

"For weeks, they risked their lives to get American citizens, Afghans who helped us, citizens of our allies and partners, and others on board planes and out of the country.

"And they did it facing a crush of enormous crowds seeking to leave the country. 

"And they did it knowing ISIS-K terrorists – sworn enemies of the Taliban – were lurking in the midst of those crowds. 

Watch: Who are ISIS-K?

The US President said that 5,500 Americans eventually got out, and that "arrangements" will be made to get the remaining Americans out if they so choose.

Mr Biden said he will sharpen the focus of US foreign policy by concentrating on threats such as cyber attacks and the proliferation of nuclear weapon technologies.

He has vowed to continue counter-terrorism operations, including against any threats emanating from Afghanistan.

He says this can be done with forces based outside of Afghanistan.

The president also mentioned the so-called Islamic State extremist group's Afghanistan affiliate ISIS-K, which conducted a suicide bombing at the Kabul airport on 26 August that killed 13 US service members and dozens of Afghan civilians.

Mr Biden said: "We are not done with you yet."

If you or someone you know needs support at this time, you can find more information by visiting the British Army website and the Government's website.

Further details about support available can be found on our website.

Cover image: US Army.