Kabul evacuations resume while Biden defends U.S. withdrawal

President Biden defended the decision to move forward with the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, saying Monday he stands “squarely behind” it. Mr. Biden’s remarks came after a chaotic day at the Kabul airport as evacuations were halted for several hours after at least two people died. 

“How many more generations of America’s daughters and sons would you have me send to fight Afghanistan’s civil war when Afghan troops will not?” said Mr. Biden, in remarks from the East Room of the White House. “How many more lives, American lives, is it worth, how many endless rows of headstones at Arlington National Cemetery?”

Mr. Biden conceded the Taliban had taken over more quickly than anticipated, but he insisted “there was never a good time to withdraw.”

The Taliban took control of the capital, Kabul, on Sunday, with the U.S. military holding on to the airport for evacuations. Shocked Americans watched from home as scenes unfolded that were eerily reminiscent of the evacuation of Saigon in 1975.

The U.S. is continuing to process visas for Afghans and their families who aided U.S. troops. Roughly 100 U.S. embassy staffers remain at the airport —they will be the last ones out. 

Gunfire rang out at the airport earlier Monday as Afghans flooded the tarmac. A U.S. military official told CBS News’ David Martin that U.S. troops had killed two armed Afghans who were part of the huge crowd that breached the airport perimeter. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby later confirmed two people died.

A horde of people run towards the Kabul Airport Terminal, after Taliban insurgents took control of the presidential palace in Kabul
Still image from video obtained from social media shows a horde of people running toward the Kabul Airport terminal on August 16, 2021 in the wake of Taliban insurgents regaining power in Afghanistan. JAWAD SUKHANYAR / Reuters