Pentagon Confirms Americans Have Been Beaten in Afghanistan
Americans have been beaten in Afghanistan, a U.S. military official said Saturday.
A day after he said the military was aware of reports that Americans were beaten by Taliban terrorists, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said that “we know of a small number of cases where some Americans … have been harassed, and in some cases, beaten.”
“We don’t believe it’s a very large number, and most Americans who have their credentials with them are being allowed through the Taliban checkpoints,” he added.
The stunning admission came as the U.S. Embassy warned Americans against traveling to the U.S.-held airport in Kabul, where thousands of people are trying to enter to escape the country before American troops leave.
The United States is openly working with the Taliban to facilitate the evacuation, and Taliban militants control all of the ground around the exterior of the airport.
President Joe Biden said Friday that the United States was in “constant communication” with the Taliban, which is designated as a terrorist group by a number of countries.
The U.S. military has largely chosen not to conduct operations outside the airport, leaving Americans and Afghans to fend for themselves until they reach the facility.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told members of Congress in a call Friday that violence against Americans “is unacceptable,” Kirby said Saturday.
And U.S. commanders have conveyed the same message to Taliban commanders, he said.
“We’ve been in touch with the Taliban for quite some time, I think, over the course of the last week. And we’ve certainly made our concerns known,” Kirby said.
According to the military spokesman, word had not filtered down from Taliban leadership to every individual militant.
“What appears to be happening is that not every Taliban fighter either got the word or decided to obey the word,” he said.
The revelation came as a growing number of Republicans called for more decisive action from the Biden administration, which both parties have said has botched the withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“Instead of going out there and making the Taliban our hostages, right now America is on day seven, day eight of the Afghanistan hostage crisis for us,” Rep. Brian Mast (R-Fla.), a military veteran, said on Fox News on Friday. “And until we flip that scenario back to where it was prior to this, we can’t safely get our people out.”
“Biden’s failed Afghanistan withdrawal has put thousands of American lives in danger behind enemy lines,” added Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), who is trying to impeach Biden, on Twitter on Saturday. “The Taliban is beating Americans but Biden is still relying on & trusting them. He is incompetent, unhinged, incoherent & unfit.”
Military officials said the focus remains on keeping the airport secure and evacuating people who can make it there.
“The military mission that we are executing now is a noncombatant evacuation operation,” Kirby said. “We’re fighting against both time and space. That’s the race that we’re in right now,” he added later.