White House: ‘Significant Number of Americans’ Remain in Afghanistan, Chaos Erupts at Airport

Official confirms US trying to determine the number of Americans still in the country
By Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Breaking News Reporter
Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter at The Epoch Times based in New York.
August 16, 2021 Updated: August 17, 2021

Violence and gunfire erupted on the Kabul airport as thousands of Afghans and others were trying to evacuate Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover on Sunday.

At one point, numerous Afghans and others tried to hold on to the outside of an American plane as it was departing the airport, according to video footage. At least one person fell hundreds of feet after the plane took off, other footage shows.

“I saw one person grabbing the plane when it moved and then later he fell down,” one man at the airport, who didn’t give his name, told the Wall Street Journal at the scene before he rushed away.

More videos shared on Twitter showed throngs of people crowding around military planes on the tarmac.

As of Sunday evening, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul was totally evacuated, said State Department Ned Price, who confirmed that they were relocated to the Kabul airport. The airport’s perimeter, he added, was secured by American troops who were deployed in recent days.

“We can confirm that the safe evacuation of all Embassy personnel is now complete,” Price said in a statement Monday. “All Embassy personnel are located on the premises of Hamid Karzai International Airport, whose perimeter is secured by the U.S. Military.”

On Monday morning, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan confirmed there were numerous Americans still inside Afghanistan.

Epoch Times Photo
US soldiers take up their positions as they secure the airport in Kabul on August 16, 2021 (Shakib Rahmani/AFP via Getty Images)

“We intend to carry out those evacuation flights after securing the airport over the coming days,” he told CBS News, adding that the White House still wanted to evacuate “thousands of people in total.”

“That includes a significant number of Americans,” he said, adding: “We are still doing outreach to establish the total number of Americans in [the] country.”

Afghanistan
Afghans crowd at the tarmac of the airport in Kabul as they wait to flee Taliban control of Afghanistan after President Ashraf Ghani fled the country and conceded the insurgents had won the 20-year war on Aug. 16, 2021. (AFP via Getty Images)
Epoch Times Photo
Afghans crowd at the airport in Kabul as they wait to leave on Aug. 16, 2021. (Shakib Rahmani/AFP via Getty Images)

Some have likened the evacuation of Americans from Afghanistan to the capture of Saigon by Vietnamese communists in 1975, capping the end of the Vietnam War. As in Siagon more than 40 years ago, scenes of U.S. military helicopters flying staff away emerged on Sunday in Kabul.

The Afghan Civil Aviation Authority announced Monday that all civilian flights in and out of the Kabul airport were suspended, urging citizens not to travel there.

On Sunday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani confirmed that he fled Afghanistan to Tajikistan, saying the Taliban had won. Top officials with the Taliban, speaking from within the presidential palace in Kabul, also declared victory.

“The Taliban have won with the judgment of their swords and guns, and are now responsible for the honor, property, and self-preservation of their countrymen,” Ghani said.

The Epoch Times has contacted the Department of State for additional comment.

Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Breaking News Reporter
Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter at The Epoch Times based in New York.