(NEXSTAR) President Joe Biden said in an address Sunday the United States has dramatically increased evacuations from Afghanistan.
“Any American who wants to get home will get home,” Biden said.
The president also insisted the effort to evacuate the thousands seeking asylum has accelerated. In one 24-hour period over the weekend, Biden said, 23 American military flights carried 3,900 people out of the country. The U.S. has also ordered commercial airlines to assist in the efforts.
“We see no reason why this (pace) can’t be kept up,” Biden said.
Biden added U.S. troops have helped diffuse the chaos outside the Kabul airport, where for days thousands of Afghans desperate to flee gathered as the Taliban blocked access to flights. Several people have been at the airport, trampled in a chaotic mass or falling to their deaths after clinging to a U.S. military plane taking off.
“To state the obvious, it’s heartbreaking,” Biden said. “We’re working diligently to get them out. We changed the gate operations and a whole range of things.”
Biden was asked Sunday if the U.S. would consider extending its deadline to withdraw troops by Aug. 31. He said the first priority remains getting American citizens out of the country first, as well as thousands of Afghan citizens. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said withdrawal has created a national security threat.
“Terrorist countries that want to attack the United States now have a sanctuary in which to do so,” Cheney said.
Biden pushed back against that accusation and said he believes history will show he made the right call on withdrawing American troops. He added U.S. intelligence is closely monitoring potential terror threats and all Afghans who are being evacuated are being processed in third-party countries.