Taliban at Airport Gates, Biden Honors Dead: Afghanistan Update

The Taliban say they have taken control of three gates at Kabul’s airport from U.S. forces ahead of the deadline for the American withdrawal on Tuesday. President Joe Biden is headed to a military base in the U.S. where the remains of service members killed in last week’s Kabul attack are due to arrive home.

“The whole airport is slowly coming under the control of the Taliban,” Enhamullah Samangani, a member of the Taliban’s Cultural Commission, said by telephone. The group is “looking forward to operating the airport after they all leave by Tuesday,” he said.

U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN there is still “serious danger” in Kabul, where a suicide bomber last week killed at least 88 people. The U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan warned citizens to leave the airport area, citing a “specific, credible threat” of another attack.

Key stories and developments:

  • Biden Heads to U.S. Base to Honor Troops Killed in Kabul Bombing
  • Biden’s Rushed Afghan Exit Adds Strains to U.S.-Pakistan Ties
  • U.S. Embassy Advises Americans to Leave Kabul Airport Area
  • How Bombing in Kabul Stokes Fear of Jihadi Revival: QuickTake
  • The Kabul Attack and China’s Prosperity Drive: Weekend Reads

All items are in Eastern Time:

Germany Could Tighten Border Controls (6:37 a.m.)

Germany is closely monitoring refugee movements out of Afghanistan and other countries in the region and will tighten border controls if needed, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

“We will do everything to prevent an uncontrolled flow of migrants to Europe,” he said. “Not everyone who wants to can come.”

Seven Afghans evacuated by Germany’s military were detained, some with forged papers or criminal records, Seehofer said. — Chris Reiter 

Turkey Will Keep Diplomatic Presence For Now (6:15 a.m.)

Turkey plans to keep its embassy in Kabul operational as long as security situation permits and Ankara is closely monitoring the situation, the state-run Anadolu agency reported on Sunday, citing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Turkey is ready to provide all kinds of support for Afghanistan’s recovery, Erdogan said. — Asli Kandemir

Last French Evacuation Plane to Arrive (5.00 a.m.)

The last French plane to evacuate citizens as well as at-risk Afghans will land in Paris around 16:30CET, the Prime Minister’s office said in a statement. Aboard the Airbus A400M is Ambassador David Martinon, who organized the evacuation of French personnel as well as Afghans who worked for France since May.

France has extracted 2,834 people, including more than 2,600 Afghans, since Aug. 17, through airlift rotations via its military base in the United Arab Emirates. Paris is in discussions with the Taliban and Qatar to keep evacuation operations after the U.S. troops leave Afghanistan, President Emmanuel Macron said on Saturday during a press conference in Baghdad. — Geraldine Amiel

Flight Carrying Last U.K. Military Returns Home (4:17 a.m.)

The last flight from Kabul carrying U.K. military and diplomatic personnel landed Sunday at an air-force base in Oxfordshire, ending the U.K.’s two-decade military campaign in Afghanistan. More than 1,000 troops, diplomats and officials were dispatched to rescue British citizens after the Taliban takeover.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a video statement on Twitter it was “the culmination of a mission unlike anything we’ve seen in our lifetimes” and that the U.K. “would not have wished to leave in this way.” — Thomas Buckley

Majority of Germans Want Minister to Resign (4:38 a.m.)

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is under pressure from the fallout in Afghanistan. A Civey poll for Handelsblatt found that 60% of Germans want Maas to resign.

Voters are upset that he failed to heed warnings and move faster to evacuate locals who worked for Germany during the U.S.-led NATO operation. — Chris Reiter

Germany, U.K., Netherlands Seek Evacuation Alternatives (3:16 a.m.)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte to continue seeking the evacuation of at-risk people from Afghanistan after the end of international military flights, according to a statement from her spokesman Steffen Seibert.

The three leaders also discussed possible political and diplomatic options to get embassy personnel out of the country. They agreed that humanitarian aid and support for refugees in the region will continue to be a priority, according to the statement. — Chris Reiter

Taliban Take Control of Three Airport Gates (1 a.m.)

The Taliban have taken control of three gates at Kabul’s airport from the U.S. forces, according to Enhamullah Samangani, a member of Taliban’s Cultural Commission.

“The whole airport is slowly coming under the control of the Taliban,” he said by phone. “We will be taking control of the whole airport in a few days” and “are looking forward to operating the airport after they all leave by Tuesday.”

U.S. Tells Americans to Leave Kabul Airport Area (9:05 p.m.)

U.S. citizens were told to leave the vicinity of Kabul airport immediately following a “specific, credible threat,” the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan said in a statement.

Americans were also told not to travel to the airport and avoid all gates at this time.

Pace of U.S. Evacuations Appears to Have Slowed (8:45 p.m.)

The White House said 2,000 people were taken out of Kabul from 3 a.m. to 3 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday, appearing to have slowed from the 6,800 people evacuated in the previous 24 hours. 

White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said a total of 113,500 were airlifted out of Kabul since Aug. 14.  

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