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‘We will get you home,’ Biden promises Americans, amid effort to speed Afghanistan evacuations

A French military plane from Kabul arrives in the United Arab Emirates in this photo released Aug. 19. (French Defense Staff/AFP/Getty Images)
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The United States has begun using additional bases for Afghanistan evacuations, U.S. Central Command confirmed Friday, after an air base in Qatar reached capacity, temporarily halting evacuation flights.

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Air Force officials said in a tweet on Friday that preparations also were underway to receive evacuees at Ramstein Air Base in Germany in coming days, and defense officials also are expecting to receive evacuees at bases in Virginia, Wisconsin and Texas.

The Biden administration is under pressure to push its Afghanistan evacuation efforts beyond the Kabul airport after European forces crossed Taliban lines and entered the city to rescue civilians. Access to the airport has been heavily restricted by Taliban fighters who have beaten people trying to flee the country.

President Biden said Friday that the United States has evacuated about 13,000 people from Afghanistan since Aug. 14.

“We will get you home. Make no mistake, this evacuation mission is dangerous and involves risks to our armed forces. And it’s being conducted under difficult circumstances. I cannot promise what the final outcome will be,” the president said in remarks at the White House.

Here’s what to know:

  • Daily mayhem at the airport continued into Friday as thousands of people attempting to board flights faced beatings by Taliban guards, the crush of heaving crowds, and endless dust and heat.
  • The Taliban is stepping up its hunt for Afghans who once worked for U.S. or NATO forces, warned a confidential threat assessment drafted for the United Nations. The report comes as German broadcaster Deutsche Welle says a relative of one of its journalists was shot dead.
  • As the Taliban swept into power across Afghanistan, it captured many millions, perhaps billions, of dollars worth of U.S. military equipment that had once belonged to Afghan forces.
  • After scenes of chaos and violence in Kabul, discussions at an emergency meeting of NATO foreign ministers on Friday turned to a sobering round of soul-searching, according to diplomats involved in the talks.
  • Biden assured key allies in June that the U.S. security presence would be maintained in Afghanistan as NATO troops withdrew, prompting Britain to believe it could maintain its Kabul embassy, according to a British diplomatic memo seen by Bloomberg.