UPDATED 12:36 PM PT – Saturday, August 21, 2021
Pentagon officials announced that 17,000 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan in the past week. During a press briefing on Saturday, Major General Hank Taylor said around 22,000 people have been evacuated since the end of July, including 2,500 Americans.
However, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said the U.S. is fighting against time when it comes to getting as many people out, as fast as they can, before the Aug. 31 deadline in order to end operations. Kirby also noted the situation is a non-combatant evacuation, but acknowledged it could change.
“It changes almost by the hour and it changes in locations around the airport. It’s very dynamic, and so I don’t want to speak for the State Department, obviously. But like our military commanders, they are going to make decisions in real time about what’s in the best interest of innocent civilians that need to get to the airport,” said Kirby.
MG Taylor: Since August 14th, we have evacuated ~17,000. I would add that Intelligence, law enforcement, and counterterrorism professionals are conducting screening and security vetting for all SIV applicants and other vulnerable Afghans before they are allowed into the U.S. pic.twitter.com/eHgohoeIzS
— Department of Defense 🇺🇸 (@DeptofDefense) August 21, 2021
According to Gen. Taylor, around 5,800 troops remain on the ground, securing the Kabul airport for evacuation operations.