Canada is prepared to continue sending military transports back to Kabul to carry on evacuating desperate Afghans in the coming weeks, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today.
But that evacuation effort will depend in large part on the ability of U.S. and Canadian troops to secure the city’s airport — the fragile gateway to a tenuous air bridge for thousands of people fleeing the Taliban following the overthrow of the democratically-elected government of President Ashraf Ghani.
At least four Canadian evacuation flights have gotten out of the city over the last several weeks. They’ve brought out at least 807 Afghans and about 500 of them have since arrived in Canada.
Thousands remain stranded in the chaos and panic engulfing Kabul. Some former military interpreters on Canada’s waiting list went out to the airport on Sunday in a futile attempt to board aircraft, but were refused entry at the gate.
Trudeau said he was “absolutely horrified” by the heartbreaking scenes emerging from Kabul of despondent Afghans clinging to the wheels of a departing U.S. Air Force transport plane. He vowed to continue the evacuation effort alongside allies.
The Associated Press, quoting a high-level U.S. official, reported that U.S. Gen. Frank McKenzie, who is in charge of the U.S. Central Command, met face-to-face with Taliban leaders on Monday and warned them not to interfere with the massive evacuation effort.
WATCH: Trudeau says Canada ‘firmly condemns’ escalating violence in Afghanistan
Trudeau says ‘Canada firmly condemns the escalating violence’ in AfghanistanLiberal leader Justin Trudeau says over 500 Afghans have arrived in Canada from the war-torn country. 2:28
Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby told reporters in Washington that there are now 2,500 American troops at the airport.
Trudeau said Canadian special forces are working alongside the American soldiers to secure the airport. He said Canadian military transports are standing by to return when it’s clear the situation on the ground is secure.
“We have military still in Afghanistan right now,” the prime minister said. “We are staging out of Kuwait, including military aircraft. We’re looking very closely with our allies at what those next steps could be.”
A Taliban fighter sits on the back of a vehicle with a machine gun in front of the main gate leading to the Afghan presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Aug. 16, 2021. (Rahmat Gul/The Associated Press)
Canada has relied on a mixture of military and contracted airlift for its evacuation. With the security situation on the ground growing worse, however, contractors are increasingly reluctant to make the dangerous journey.
Now that the Canadian embassy in Kabul is closed, Trudeau said, the processing of Afghans’ applications to come to Canada will continue at remote locations.
The United Nations Security Council has called for an immediate halt to hostilities in Afghanistan and the establishment of a new government “that is united, inclusive and representative” and also includes women.
It was the council’s first statement since the collapse of Afghanistan’s government. Ghani fled into exile on Sunday.
Trudeau said the Taliban needs to end the violence and restore order outside the airport, where tens of thousands of people are still encamped and waiting for their chance to escape.
“We need to see the Taliban step up and permit the evacuation of those who want to leave, and that is what we are expecting of them,” Trudeau said, noting Canada and dozens of other countries released a declaration Sunday night calling on the new regime to keep the borders open.
Source From CBC News