The U.S. has evacuated approximately 7,000 people from Afghanistan since Saturday, including more than 2,000 over the last 24 hours, Pentagon officials said during a news briefing Thursday.
Why it matters: The U.S. is still well short of its goal of evacuating 5,000 to 9,000 Americans and eligible Afghans per day, but capacity is ramping up and the operation has stabilized since the scenes of chaos earlier this week.
State of play: At least 5,200 troops are on the ground in Kabul as of Thursday, with more troops expected to arrive in the days ahead, Taylor said. There are believed to be up 15,000 Americans still in Afghanistan, and tens of thousands more Afghans who assisted the U.S. in its war effort.
- Kabul's Hamid Karzai International Airport "remains secure and open for flight operations," and multiple gates now have access for entry into the airfield, according to Army Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor.
- "We're ready to increase throughput and have scheduled aircraft departures accordingly. We intend to maximize each plane's capacity," Taylor said. "We're prioritizing people above all else, and we're focused on doing this as safely as possible with absolute urgency."
The big picture: Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said that there has not yet been a decision to keep troops in Kabul past the current Aug. 31 deadline.
- Kirby's remarks come after President Biden told ABC's George Stephanopoulos that U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan until every American is evacuated, even if that means staying past the White House's Aug. 31 deadline.
- "There has been no decision to change the deadline, and we are focused on doing everything we can inside that deadline to move as many people out as possible," Kirby said.
- "If and when there’s a decision to change that, then obviously that would require additional conversations with the Taliban as well," Kirby said.