The Taliban has told the US administration that it will allow a “safe passage” to the airport in Kabul.
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan confirmed this and said that the Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) is now operational.
Flights evacuating Americans and Afghan civilians are now underway after a pause on the operation on Monday.
“The Taliban have informed us that they are prepared to provide a safe passage of civilians to the airport, and we intend to hold them to that commitment,” he said.
The National Security Advisor said that those looking to leave have largely been able to make it to the airport, despite earlier reports that the Taliban were blocking routes to the airport.
“By and large, what we have found is that people have been able to get to the airport,” Sullivan told reporters. “In fact, very large numbers of people have been able to get to the airport and present themselves.
“There have been instances where we have received reports of people being turned away or pushed back or even beaten; we are taking that up in a channel with the Taliban to try to resolve those issues.”
Alongside this, Sullivan also took to defending President Biden’s decision to pull U.S troops from Afghanistan.
Calling the conflict a “civil war”, he said the 2,500 US troops remaining in the country by Biden’s inauguration in January could not have prevented a Taliban takeover.
“There are those who argue that with 2,500 forces – the number of forces in the country when President Biden took office – we could have sustained a stable, peaceful Afghanistan; that is simply wrong,” he said.
“The previous administration drew down from 15,000 troops to 2,500 troops, and even at 15,000, the Afghan government forces were losing ground.
What has unfolded over the past month has proven decisively that it would have taken a significant American troop presence, multiple times greater than what President Biden was handed, to stop a Taliban onslaught,” he said.
“And we would have taken casualties, American men and women would have been fighting and dying once again in Afghanistan.”
Despite growing criticism, President Joe Biden stands firm behind his decision to pull out from Afghanistan.
Earlier Sullivan also said that the Taliban cannot be trusted on their promises after Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that no one will be harmed.
“Ultimately it’s going to be up to the Taliban to show the rest of the world who they are and how they intend to proceed,” he said. “The track record has not been good.”
The US led an international coalition that invaded Afghanistan in 2001 in response to the 9/11 attacks. At the time, the Taliban had been harbouring the leader of al-Qaeda Osama bin Laden.
The Taliban have now captured Kabul in a lightning offensive as U.S forces pull out of the country.