KEY POINTS

  • A U.S. military general said American aircraft can airlift up to 9,000 people daily
  • Paperwork processing issues have slowed down evacuations from Afghanistan
  • Taliban checkpoints also add to the pressure of getting stranded U.S. citizens and vulnerable Afghans out of the country
  • The U.S. is yet to settle an agreement with the extremist group regarding the safe passage of evacuees outside the Kabul airport

The United States has the aircraft capacity to airlift thousands of people per day, but so far, only 2,000 have been evacuated in the last 24 hours, raising concerns about the safety of remaining Americans and Afghan allies in Afghanistan. About 300 of the evacuees from the last 24 hours were Americans.

Gen. Hank Taylor said Thursday that so far, the U.S. has only evacuated 7,000 people since Saturday, Axios reported. The number is a far cry from the supposed 5,000-9,000 capacity that U.S. aircraft can airlift on a daily basis. U.S. evacuation has been met with difficulties in getting people to safety since the Taliban seized Kabul on Sunday.

Thousands of Afghans worked with U.S. troops before most forces left the country early in July. Many of them are still seeking refuge and trying to leave Afghanistan. However, the evacuation has been difficult due to paper processing issues. Processing only sped up Thursday, according to State Department spokesperson Ned Price.

While processing is a problem for some U.S. passport holders, others seeking refuge have reportedly been turned away at checkpoints. There have been reports of people getting beaten at Taliban checkpoints. Experts now believe that the success of getting trapped Americans and Afghan allies out of Kabul would rely heavily on how the Taliban will cooperate.

Taylor further noted that despite the huge capacity of the U.S. military aircraft, evacuations will still depend on “who is on the airfield, ready to leave a holding area and get on the aircraft,” CNBC reported.

Taylor’s comments came one day after the U.S. Embassy in Kabul warned that it “cannot ensure safe passage” to American citizens in the capital who are outside the airport. At this point, U.S. evacuation processors are relying on a solid agreement with the extremist group to get Americans into the airport.

The biggest hurdle for Afghan allies who worked with the American troops in the past are the Taliban checkpoints surrounding the Kabul airport. Many Taliban members and fighters deployed at the checkpoints are illiterate and could not confirm the documents and paperwork presented by people trying to get into the airport, the Associated Press reported.

The Pentagon said senior U.S. military officials are communicating with Taliban commanders on how to manage the militant group’s checkpoint passage processes as well as curfews enforced since the extremist group took over. It is unclear whether an agreement has been set for literate Taliban fighters to be placed in checkpoints surrounding the airport.

A bipartisan group, the Truman National Security Project, has urged the Biden administration to extend U.S. presence in Afghanistan beyond the promised exit date of Aug. 31.

President Joe Biden has said that American troops will stay in Afghanistan as long as possible until evacuations are completed, but he said the goal is to get vulnerable Afghans and all U.S. citizens out before the end of August.

Taliban fighters took control of the city on Sunday after a lightning offensive that saw the former government's provincial strongholds around Afghanistan topple like dominoes in a matter of days Taliban fighters took control of the city on Sunday after a lightning offensive that saw the former government's provincial strongholds around Afghanistan topple like dominoes in a matter of days Photo: AFP / Wakil KOHSAR