The Taliban officially held their first news conference in Kabul on Tuesday as traumatic scenes flooded the internet of civilians desperately attempting to flee the country. Thousands desperately stormed the Kabul airport, some going so far as to cling onto the outside of evacuating air transport, plunging to their death. Bodies have even been reported to have been found in the wheel wells of military planes.
The Taliban’s main spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said “we don’t’ want any internal or external enemies.” The Taliban claimed they will not seek retribution against former soldiers and those who helped the United States and other western countries in the past two decades.
“Nobody is going to harm you, nobody is going to knock on your doors,” said Mujahid; a statement the world does not seem to hold in high confidence if history is any indication. Mujahid also addressed another global concern; the treatment of women under Taliban rule.
Women will be allowed to work and study and “will be very active in society but within the framework of Islam,” said Mujahid. President Joe Biden’s national security adviser Jack Sullivan said Tuesday in a press conference that the Taliban have agreed to allow “safe passage” from Afghanistan for civilians attempting to leave Kabul with U.S. air transport.
In the same press conference, however, Sullivan acknowledged reports that civilians were “being turned away or pushed back or even beaten” as they attempted to get to the Kabul airport.
The Associated Press reports the State Department “said it was sending John Bass a former ambassador to Afghanistan, to manage the evacuation operation in Kabul, and the Pentagon said it will send Army Maj. Gen. Christopher Donohue, a special operations officer and current commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, to take command or airport security operations.”
The White House also stated 13 flights on Tuesday had airlifted 1,100 U.S. citizens, permanent residents and their families from Kabul, claiming more will continue throughout the week. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said U.S. officers were speaking with Taliban commanders “multiple times a day” about avoiding conflict as they attempt to complete evacuations.
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