The primary US troops have begun to depart Afghanistan as Biden decides to not lengthen the withdrawal interval

“So far, the reduction has not had any impact on the mission,” said one of the officials, adding that the commander on the ground can decide which military personnel are in units that are no longer needed. This decision can be based on a number of factors including the number of gates open at the airport, the number of people passing through, and more.

“If you have a smaller mission kit and you can still carry out the mission, you can reduce your footprint and reduce your risk,” the officer said.

The Pentagon is very aware of the threat posed by ISIS-K and other terrorist groups around the airport and is developing alternative routes for US citizens and Afghan evacuees. In addition, the Taliban have openly stated that they do not want a US military presence in Afghanistan beyond the end of August and warned that there will be “consequences” if the US stays longer.

The fact that a small number of American troops have already left underscores how quickly the situation is developing. The pace of evacuations has accelerated rapidly in recent days, but with a week until Biden’s deadline, the U.S. military will soon be forced to switch from transporting Americans and Afghans to safely evacuating all troops and the security operation around the airport.

Commenting on an emergency G7 meeting on Tuesday, Biden said the threat to US forces in Kabul was one of the main reasons he held the end of the month as the last withdrawal date.

“The heads of state and government were very much in agreement, both on the ongoing evacuation mission and on the need to coordinate our approach in Afghanistan as it progresses,” said Biden in the White House on Tuesday afternoon.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement on Tuesday: “The President announced that our mission in Kabul will end on the basis of the achievement of our goals.”

“He confirmed that we are currently ready by August 31, and announced the progress made in evacuating Americans who want to go home, third-country nationals and Afghans who were our allies during the war.”

Psaki said Biden had noticed that the risks were getting higher every day in a country now controlled by the Taliban, and particularly warned of the potential for terrorist attacks, which has become an acute problem in his administration.

“The schedule of the mission, which should be completed by the end of the month, has not changed,” said Pentagon press secretary John Kirby on Tuesday morning.

“When the worst-case scenario occurs, you don’t want more people there than you need,” the defense official said.

Biden is aware of the increasing risks

But the president also said Tuesday that he had asked for contingency plans to adjust the August 31 schedule “should it become necessary”. He stressed, however, that every day American troops are in the country brings “an additional risk” with it.

“I am determined to make sure we accomplish our mission, this mission. I am also aware of the increasing risks that I have been informed of and the need to include those risks. There are real and significant challenges that we need to consider, “he continued.

As the US nears the final date of withdrawal, the number of flown out Afghan evacuees is expected to gradually decline, while the number of flown-out US troops is expected to increase.

Evacuation flights from Kabul are increasing.  That's the way it is at the airport.

Biden said Tuesday that 70,700 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan since Aug. 14 and that the U.S. is well on its way to completing its evacuation mission by Aug. 31.

“The sooner we get done the better,” he said, adding that in the past 12 hours, 19 US military flights have evacuated about 6,400 people and 31 coalition flights carrying 5,600 people have left Kabul.

The State Department has contacted all Americans who were registered in Afghanistan and instructed them to report to designated locations for evacuation, a source familiar with an administration “SitRep” said Tuesday morning.

The source said the SitRep acknowledged that US citizens “experienced delays at checkpoints” but “finally” reached the Kabul airport and noted that the evacuation of US citizens was ongoing.

The State Department also sent a push message to all Americans in Afghanistan saying that if they don’t choose to leave, they “should be prepared to arrange their own departure,” according to the message verified by CNN. However, about half an hour later, the agency sent a message reminding them of these instructions.

It was not immediately clear why the State Department recalled the message. CNN has asked the ministry for comment.

Desperate situation

But even as the United States flies tens of thousands of people out of the country, many Afghans who supported the war effort are still waiting for their turn to leave.

Many Afghan allies the US wants to help are being left behind, a senior administration official told CNN, adding: “That would be the case with any evacuation or takeover by the Taliban.”

Taliban say they will not allow Afghans to leave the country and refuse to extend evacuation

The official said the 70,000 people evacuated in the past 10 days don’t exactly match the universe of Afghan allies eligible to enter the U.S., which Biden previously estimated at 50,000 to 65,000. Many of the 70,000 evacuees belonged to various groups of Afghan allies who were prioritized by US European partners.

In addition, some of the evacuees have not even applied for special immigrant visa status, even though they will do so in Qatar or Kuwait.

The official declined to estimate the number of Americans still in Afghanistan, referring to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who will speak on Wednesday, but said the number was on the 14th several weeks. “

This story was updated with additional information on Tuesday.

CNN’s John Harwood, Nicole Gaouette, Kylie Atwood and Jennifer Hansler contributed to this report.

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