No Flights Land or Leave Kabul's Airport, Pentagon Says

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A Turkish Airlines airplane taking off from Hamid Karzai International Airport on Sunday, one of the last commercial flights to leave Kabul.
Credit...Kiana Hayeri for The New York Times

Helene Cooper

  • Aug. 16, 2021, 12:02 p.m. ET

The Pentagon said Monday that at this time there were no flights coming or going, military or civilian, into Hamid Karzai International Airport.

John F. Kirby, the chief Pentagon spokesman, said that a security breach on the civilian side of the airport led the American Marines there — 2,500 as of Monday morning — to shut down flights until troops have secured the airport.

He said that by Tuesday morning the military expects around 3,000 Marines would be on the ground at the airport to aid the evacuation effort. Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III is sending an additional 1,000 troops from the 82nd Airborne to Kabul, instead of to Kuwait, to help secure the area.

Altogether by later this week there will be 6,000 American troops conducting security at the airport and helping the evacuation.

Mr. Kirby also said that there was a preliminary report that one American soldier had been injured.

“All the images coming out are of concern and troubling,” Mr. Kirby said, in reference to a video of an American transport plane taking off from Kabul’s airport with desperate Afghans hanging onto the wings. Those people were later seen falling from the airborne plane.

He said that all Americans and Afghan allies should continue to “shelter in place until security can be re-established at the airport.”

He said that the Turkish troops at the airport were helping the Marines to secure it.

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