Pentagon Orders Commercial Airlines to Help Afghan Evacuees, Taliban Warns of Consequences

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The Taliban warns US and UK of “consequences” if extension past August 31 troop withdrawal deadline, as the Pentagon activates the Civil Reserve Air Fleet to provide planes to assist transporting evacuees out of Afghanistan.

Pentagon activates civil reserve air fleet, only third time in history

To assist with transporting evacuees out of Afghanistan, for only the third time in history, the Pentagon has activated the Civil Reserve Air Fleet which recruits commercial aircraft to transport people. The US hopes the enlistment of commercial airlines will help speed up the process of Afghanistan evacuations.

However, the commercial aircraft will only be used to transport people once they have been evacuated from Afghanistan by military aircraft.

Commercial aircraft will be used for the “onward movement of passengers from temporary safe havens and interim staging basis,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement

Thus far, the Pentagon has enlisted 18 aircraft from United, American, Delta and Hawaiian airlines, which will not fly into Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport, the statement from Kirby outlined.

The program is voluntary, according to the Transportation Department. In return, participating carriers are given preference in caring commercial peacetime cargo and passenger traffic for the Defense Department, NBC reported. The civil reserve air fleet has been activated only twice before, in operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm in 1990 to 1991, and during Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2002 to 2003.

Taliban warns US and UK of “consequences” that will “provoke a reaction” if attempt to extend withdrawal deadline beyond August 31

The Taliban has warned the United States and Britain there will be “consequences” that will “provoke a reaction” if the two countries do not leave Afghanistan and attempt to extend its withdrawal of troops beyond the deadline of August 31, the Daily Mail reported.

“If the US or UK were to seek additional time to continue evacuations – the answer is no,” said Taliban spokesperson Dr. Suhail Shaheen. “Or there would be consequences.”

“It will create a mistrust between us,” Shaheen added. “If they are intent on continuing the occupation it will provoke a reaction.”

Biden Discussing extension

On Sunday, President Joe Biden said a withdrawal extension was under discussion with his administration and the military, and a video posted by the Irish Times.

“Our hope is we will not have to extend but there are going to be discussions I suspect on how far along we are in the process,” Mr. Biden said.

“We’re working hard and as fast as we can to get people out – that’s our mission”