President Biden pledges to bring back home all trapped Americans in Afghanistan, adding US is in close contact with Taliban to gain access to Kabul airport for US-aligned Afghan citizens.

US soldiers stand guard behind barbed wire as Afghans sit on a roadside near the military part of the airport in Kabul, hoping to flee from the country, on August 20, 2021.
US soldiers stand guard behind barbed wire as Afghans sit on a roadside near the military part of the airport in Kabul, hoping to flee from the country, on August 20, 2021. (AFP)

US President Joe Biden has said he cannot guarantee the final outcome of the emergency evacuation from Kabul's airport, calling it one of the most "difficult" airlift operations ever.

"This is one of the largest, most difficult airlifts in history," Biden said in a televised address from the White House on Friday. 

"I cannot promise what the final outcome will be."

The president said US forces have airlifted 13,000 people out of Afghanistan since August 14, and 18,000 since July, with thousands more evacuated on private charter flights "facilitated by the US government."

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Biden facing criticism

Biden pledged to Americans still trapped in Afghanistan that "We will get you home."

Biden said US is in close contact with the Taliban to gain access to the Kabul airport for US-aligned Afghan citizens.

Biden's comments come as the US government struggles to ramp up a massive airlift clearing Americans and other foreigners and vulnerable Afghans through the Kabul airport, rescuing them from a Taliban takeover of the country.

Biden is facing criticism for a chaotic and often violent scene outside the airport and crowds struggle to reach safety inside.

"I don't think anyone of us can see these pictures and not feel that pain on a human level," Biden said, but "now I’m focused on getting this job done."

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'Dissent' memo

Democratic and Republican lawmakers say Biden did not act swiftly enough to withdraw vulnerable people from Afghanistan in the face of the rapid Taliban advances.

Bolstering the critics' case was disclosure of an internal "dissent" memo dated July 13 from some diplomats at the U.S. embassy in Kabul. 

They warned of swift gains by the Taliban coupled with a collapse of Afghan security forces, according to a source familiar with the situation who confirmed an account of the document published by the Wall Street Journal.

The memo came less than a week after Biden said a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan was "not inevitable."

The source said the dissent cable was acted upon, saying it called for an airlift operation, which was announced a day after the cable was received.

White House communications director Kate Bedingfield told MSNBC on Friday that Biden's focus "is on getting every single American out of Afghanistan who wants to get out of Afghanistan and getting our Afghan allies as well."

The White House has promised a review of the administration's performance in the crisis, but a source said this has been set aside for now while attention is paid to the evacuations.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies