The U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan announced on Saturday that U.S. citizens should not travel to the airport in Kabul due to security threats outside of the gates.
“Because of potential security threats outside the gates at the Kabul airport, we are advising U.S. citizens to avoid traveling to the airport and to avoid airport gates at this time unless you receive individual instructions from a U.S. government representative to do so,” the Embassy said in a security alert.
The Embassy also urged U.S. citizens to be aware of their surroundings, especially in large surroundings.
???U.S. Embassy Kabul: “Becuz of potential security threats outside the gates at Kabul airport, we’re advising U.S. citizens to avoid traveling to the airport & to avoid airport gates at this time unless you receive individual instructions from a U.S. government rep to do so.” pic.twitter.com/6nTxPXfg15
— Jerry Dunleavy (@JerryDunleavy) August 21, 2021
The security alert from the Embassy appears to contradict what President Joe Biden said at a news conference that he held on Friday at the White House:
REPORTER: The military has secured the airport, as you mentioned, but will you sign off on sending U.S. troops into Kabul to evacuate Americans who haven’t been able to get to the airport safely?
BIDEN: We have no indication that they haven’t been able to get — in Kabul — through the airport. We’ve made an agreement with the — with the Taliban. Thus far, they’ve allowed them to go through. It’s in their interest for them to go through. So, we know of no circumstance where American citizens are — carrying an American passport — are trying to get through to the airport. But we will do whatever needs to be done to see to it they get to the airport.
The New York Times took issue with the claim from Biden, calling it “misleading,” as “reports from Afghanistan contradict this statement, and other government officials have been more cautious when describing the conditions for American citizens traveling to the airport.”
The Times added:
The United States Embassy in Kabul sent a security alert on Wednesday warning American citizens, legal residents and their families that the “United States government cannot ensure safe passage to the Hamid Karzai International Airport.” Asked about Mr. Biden’s claim that no American had been denied access to the airport, Ned Price, a spokesman for the State Department, said in a news conference on Friday that the department “has received only a small number of reports from American citizens that their access has been impeded in some way, that they have faced any sort of hardship or resistance, getting to the airport.”
Mr. Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, also said in the news conference that he was aware of “sporadic reports of some Americans not being able to get through checkpoints,” but that they were able to get through “by and large.” Politico reported that Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III told Congress on Friday that some Americans trying to leave Afghanistan had been harassed and beaten by Taliban fighters.
An unnamed American resident in Afghanistan told ABC News that he had witnessed people holding U.S. passports not being allowed through Taliban checkpoints. Clarissa Ward, a CNN reporter in Kabul, said after Mr. Biden’s remarks that she had difficulty reaching the airport. “Working how to get to this airport is like a Rubik’s Cube,” Ms. Ward said on CNN on Friday. “Anyone who says that any American can get in here is — yes, I mean, technically, it’s possible. But it’s extremely difficult, and it is dangerous.”
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