Americans and other Westerners are finding it impossible to leave Afghanistan due to the thousands of desperate locals outside Kabul’s airport, the Daily Mail reported.
U.S. troops have been firing warning shots to disperse the crowd of up to 50,000 Afghans surrounding the airport, according to the Daily Mail.
Stun grenades were seen flashing beside the airport’s perimeter in video from Wednesday night, and Westerners saw shots fired by U.S. and British troops guarding the military wing of the base.
The Daily Mail said Taliban fighters periodically fired shots to disperse the crowd near the airport’s main entrance, and had little idea who to let inside the airport.
Anguished Afghan women have been seen passing babies over barbed wire to soldiers in a vain attempt to get them out of the country.
Taliban guards beatings Afghans and firing shots seemingly at random exacerbated the panic and chaos.
The chaos around Kabul’s airport appears to be growing daily and has caused dangerous stampedes in which several people have been killed, including a 14-year-old girl.
U.S. and British troops have said that firing warning shots is a last resort. The Taliban, however, have been seen shooting from the hip while near women and children.
U.S. citizens and other Westerners are attempting to leave Afghanistan, which now is controlled by the Taliban.
“Two expats — one British and one Norwegian — have already been forced to turn back this morning because they can’t get through,” Paul Farthing, a former British Marine who now lives in Kabul with his wife, wrote in an email to the Daily Mail.
“And last night a U.N. convoy carrying various foreign nationals, who had been working in Afghanistan for [non-governmental organizations], had to turn round because of the sheer volume of people on the street.”
The Taliban seized control of capital city Kabul on Sunday amid President Joe Biden’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country.
Biden was scheduled to address the evacuation operation in Afghanistan at 1 p.m. ET Friday, the White House said.
Biden has said troops will stay until all U.S. citizens are evacuated from Kabul, but the Daily Mail reported some British troops were suspicious of the president’s remarks and believed American fighters could leave abruptly. British soldiers on their own likely would be unable to evacuate U.K. nationals and interpreters.
The Daily Mail said there were around 6,000 American soldiers, 900 British soldiers, and smaller numbers of Turks and Australians at the airport, but their jurisdiction only extends up to the perimeter wall.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said he expected 18 U.S. flights to take off Thursday, though it is not clear how many people would be on each plane.
Farthing said those comments were naïve.
“Nobody can actually reach [the processing center] because of the crowds and the chaos surrounding it,” Farthing wrote. “It’s a lottery whether you get picked to get through the security.
“At the moment people who have seats booked on flights out of the airport are being turned back while others who storm fencing or are picked completely at random are getting on planes.”