House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) does not believe that the U.S. will be able to complete its evacuation of Americans and Afghan allies by the end of the month.
Speaking to reporters on the steps of the Capitol on Monday, Schiff said it is “possible” that the U.S. will complete its evacuations by the deadline.
However, he said, “I think it’s very unlikely, given the number of Americans who still need to be evacuated, the number of [special immigrant visas], the number others who are members of the Afghan press, civil society leaders, women leaders. It’s hard for me to imagine all of that can be accomplished between now and the end of the month.”
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House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) says “it’s very unlikely” the U.S. can wrap up Afghanistan evacuations by August 31st, after receiving a classified briefing on the situation. pic.twitter.com/6wfzDQ5tHy
— The Recount (@therecount) August 24, 2021
On Tuesday, the White House said that the U.S. had evacuated 12,700 people, and coalition aircraft evacuated 8,900.
Since Aug. 14, the U.S. has “evacuated and facilitated the evacuation of approximately 58,700 people,” the White House said.
Since August 14, the U.S. has evacuated and facilitated the evacuation of approximately 58,700 people. Since the end of July, we have re-located approximately 63,900 people.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) August 24, 2021
Schiff’s comments come as the U.S. is heading toward an Aug. 31 deadline to complete the withdrawal from Afghanistan.
But with thousands of Americans and Afghan allies still hoping to get out of the country, President Joe Biden said that he is considering extending the deadline. However, he added, “Our hope is that we will not have to extend.”
The military has reportedly told Biden he has to decide by Tuesday whether or not to extend the deadline to ensure that it can withdraw the 5,800 troops and equipment in Afghanistan by the end of the month.
But while Biden said he is considering an extension, the Taliban’s spokesperson Suhail Shaheen warned, “It’s a red line… If they extend it, that means they are extending occupation while there is no need for that.”
“If the US or UK were to seek additional time to continue evacuations – the answer is no. Or there would be consequences,” he added.
Shaheen also said that an extension would “create mistrust between us” and “provoke a reaction.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told Fox News on Tuesday that the president should extend the deadline despite the Taliban’s warning, “The president needs to forget about the August 31 deadline. … Extend the deadline, get outside the perimeter, make sure that every single American who wants to leave is able to get out with our assistance and our Afghan allies.”
“The Taliban should not be allowed to tell us how long we are there to get our personnel out. That’s our decision, not theirs,” he added.
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