Chaos at Afghanistan airport evacuation was 'inevitable', defiant Joe Biden says

19 August 2021, 10:37

Joe Biden said he could not see how the chaos at Kabul airport could have been avoided
Joe Biden said he could not see how the chaos at Kabul airport could have been avoided. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Chaos at Kabul airport amid the desperate attempt to evacuate people from Taliban rule was inevitable, Joe Biden has said.

The US will keep troops in Afghanistan for as long as it takes to get Americans out, he added in remarks to ABC News.

The commander-in-chief has been heavily criticised around the world for the chaotic withdrawal from the country, which saw the government collapse and the Taliban take over.

Determined to push ahead with leaving before the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, the departure of most foreign forces precipitated a complete collapse of the state that an international coalition lost lives and spent a fortune developing.

President Biden on Afghanistan withdrawal, Taliban takeover intelligence decisions l WNT

The Taliban – deposed in a US-led invasion designed to shut down Al Qaeda groups within Afghanistan – have taken control of most of the country.

US and British forces are attempting to keep order at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, ironically leading to a surge in their military presence while foreign citizens and Afghan refugees are evacuated.

Mr Biden said he would keep forces in country past the August 31 deadline if the US still needed to get people out.

Read more: Desperate Afghan mothers fleeing Taliban 'throw babies over Kabul airport barbed wire'

Read more: Taliban 'beat and whip' crowds as regime tightens grip on Afghanistan

The US and allies have been evacuating from Kabul
The US and allies have been evacuating from Kabul. Picture: Alamy

Speaking to ABC, the president said he would do "everything in our power" to get Americans and allies out by the end of the month, but he added: "If there's American citizens left, we're going to stay till we get them all out."

ABC News' George Stephanopoulos also questioned him about the images of people being crowded into military jets and appearing to fall from a plane during take off, having apparently clung on in a desperate bid to escape Taliban rule.

"That was four days ago, five days ago," Mr Biden said.

Life in Kabul is 'grim and sad' journalist in Afghanistan tells LBC

"What I thought was, we have to gain control of this… the idea that we could have gotten out without chaos ensuing – I don't know how that happens."

Read more: Afghanistan: 12 people killed at Kabul airport as crowds try to flee Taliban rule

He also said that, having previously said a Taliban victory was unlikely, "the idea that the Taliban would take over was premised on the notion that somehow the 300,000 troops we had trained and equipped was going to just collapse, were going to give up, I don't think anybody anticipated that".

The Taliban said 12 people had died around the airport since Sunday, mostly either through stampedes or gunshots.