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Pentagon press secretary John Kirby (R) speaks as Army Maj. Gen. William "Hank" Taylor listens during a news briefing at the Pentagon, Aug. 17. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The U.S. has evacuated approximately 7,000 people from Afghanistan since Saturday, including more than 2,000 over the last 24 hours, Pentagon officials said during a news briefing Thursday.

Why it matters: The U.S. is still well short of its goal of evacuating 5,000–9,000 Americans and eligible Afghans per day, but capacity is ramping up and the operation has stabilized since the scenes of chaos earlier this week.

State of play: At least 5,200 troops are on the ground in Kabul as of Thursday, with more troops expected to arrive in the days ahead, Army Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor said. There are believed to be up 15,000 Americans still in Afghanistan, and tens of thousands more Afghans who assisted the U.S. in its war effort.

  • Kabul's Hamid Karzai International Airport "remains secure and open for flight operations," and multiple gates now have access for entry into the airfield, according to Taylor.
  • "We're ready to increase throughput and have scheduled aircraft departures accordingly. We intend to maximize each plane's capacity," Taylor said.

There are currently no plans to expand the security perimeter to allow for safe passage to the airport.

  • Officials said the Taliban have not been interfering with Americans traveling to the airport, but there have been multiple reports of Afghans with documentation being beaten or turned away by Taliban fighters at checkpoints.
  • Pentagon press secretary John Kirby also said that armed U.S. fighter jets have been flying over Kabul since Aug. 14 "to ensure support for commanders on the ground."

The big picture: Kirby said that there has not yet been a decision to keep troops in Kabul past the current Aug. 31 deadline.

  • Kirby's remarks come after President Biden told ABC's George Stephanopoulos that U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan until every American is evacuated, even if that means staying past the White House's Aug. 31 deadline.
  • "There has been no decision to change the deadline, and we are focused on doing everything we can inside that deadline to move as many people out as possible," Kirby said.
  • "If and when there’s a decision to change that, then obviously that would require additional conversations with the Taliban as well," Kirby said.

Go deeper

Oct 16, 2021 - World

U.S. offers condolence payments to families of civilians killed in Kabul air strike

Department of Defense press secretary John Kirby (left) and U.S. Army Maj. Gen. William Taylor at a press briefing following the Kabul drone strike. Photo: Anna Moneymaker via Getty Images

The Pentagon has offered unspecified payments as a condolence to the families of 10 Afghan civilians, including seven children, who were killed in an Aug. 29 U.S. drone strike in Kabul.

Why it matters: Though U.S. military officials initially said the drone strike targeted an Islamic State member, they later admitted that Zemari Ahmadi, an aid worker who was driving the car struck by the drone, was an innocent victim.

Updated 8 hours ago - World

U.S. airstrike kills senior al-Qaeda leader in Syria, DOD says

A displacement camp near the village of Qah in Syria's northwestern Idlib province. Photo: Ahmad Al-Atrash/AFP via Getty Images

A U.S. airstrike in northwest Syria on Friday killed senior al-Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

Why it matters: Syria serves as a "safe haven" for the extremist group to plan external operations, according to U.S. Army Maj. John Rigsbee.

Updated 13 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.

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