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Biden Warns Lives Could Be Lost In Kabul Airlift

image sourceGetty Images

image captionMr Biden has staunchly defended the US withdrawal

US President Joe Biden has acknowledged the evacuation of Americans from Afghanistan is “not without risk of loss”.

Speaking at the White House, Mr Biden said the US had evacuated 13,000 people to date in “one of the largest, most difficult airlifts in history”.

Mr Biden is promising to bring home all remaining Americans, along with 50-65,000 Afghans who helped US troops.

He has faced international criticism over the Taliban’s rapid takeover.

“Any American who wants to come home, we will get you home,” said Mr Biden, who cut short his holiday to address the crisis.

Taking questions from reporters, the president said the US military would make the “same commitment” to Afghan allies hoping to leave, before adding the evacuation of US citizens was the “priority”.

“Make no mistake, this evacuation mission is dangerous. It involves risks to our armed forces and it’s being conducted under difficult circumstances,” said Mr Biden.

“I cannot promise what the final outcome will be or that it will be without risk of loss. But as commander in chief, I can assure you that I will mobilise every resource necessary,” he added.

He also said it would not be necessary to send US troops into Kabul to extract trapped Americans, claiming that the Taliban was permitting airport entry to anyone holding a US passport.

However, numerous reports from Kabul have suggested US citizens are having trouble reaching the airport. And Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin told lawmakers in a briefing on Friday that Americans trying to leave Afghanistan have been beaten by Taliban fighters, reports Politico.

media captionWidow of US soldier killed in Afghanistan: “How are we safer today?”

What has the criticism been?

The Biden administration has been questioned repeatedly this week on how the US intelligence service seemed to so seriously misjudge the situation in Afghanistan.

On Friday, Mr Biden again rejected the notion of an intelligence failure, saying there was a “consensus” among officials that the Taliban surging to power this quickly was “highly unlikely”.

The president also pushed back on the suggestion that events in Afghanistan had tarnished the US reputation on the world stage, insisting there had been “no question of our credibility from our allies around the world”.

Describing the war in Afghanistan as a “joint effort” with allied countries, Mr Biden said he would convene a meeting with G7 allies to discuss next steps.

On Friday, South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said if the US leaves one US citizen or Afghan ally behind, Mr Biden should be impeached.

Several Democrats have also criticised Mr Biden. New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez, who chairs the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he plans to seek a “full accounting” of what he described as the “flawed” withdrawal from Afghanistan.

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