August 28 Afghanistan-Taliban news

By Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 0259 GMT (1059 HKT) August 31, 2021
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12:21 p.m. ET, August 28, 2021

About 350 Americans still seeking to leave Afghanistan, State Department says

From CNN's Brian Rokus

There are approximately 350 Americans still looking to leave Afghanistan, according to a State Department spokesperson.

These individuals are currently the only Americans the State Department can confirm are still in the country and seeking to leave, the Department said, and it believes some of them are nearly out or already out of Afghanistan.

The State Department also said it has communicated with roughly 280 additional individuals who self-identified as Americans but who have not told the Department of their plans to leave the country, or who have said they do not intend to leave at all.

Nearly 300 Americans were evacuated in the last day and the State Department also confirmed at least 5,400 Americans have been evacuated since Aug. 14, as the DOD reported earlier today.

12:42 p.m. ET, August 28, 2021

US passport holders still being let into Kabul airport, Pentagon says

From CNN's Michael Conte

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby speaks at a briefing in Washington, DC, on August 28, 2021.
Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby speaks at a briefing in Washington, DC, on August 28, 2021. Susan Walsh/AP

The Pentagon said that any US passport holder can get into the airport in Kabul, after a US Embassy in Kabul alert on Friday warned US citizens at the airport gates to “leave immediately” due to security threats and avoid traveling to the airport.

“They’re doing the prudent, responsible thing, to inform Americans there in Kabul about what’s best for their own safety,” said Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby.

Kirby also said that Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants and vulnerable Afghans are still being processed at the airport.

11:57 a.m. ET, August 28, 2021

US Marine corporal killed in Kabul bombing identified

From CNN's Madeleine Fitzgerald

US Marine Corporal Hunter Lopez died in Thursday's bombing outside Kabul International Airport, his mother, Alicia Lopez told CNN.

Lopez's mother said she and her family are flying to Dover Air Force Base soon to claim the remains of her son.

She described her son as a resourceful child with a promising future.

Alicia Lopez described an earlier exchange with her son where he had sent a photo of him and a small Afghan boy.

"My son called me and told me that the photo of him and the little boy, he scooped up the boy and carried him on his shoulders for five miles to safety. He told me, 'mama we are so resourceful. We hot-wired a car and got back to base to be safe,'” Alicia Lopez said.

"My son was going places." Lopez said of her son "Please share that I am praying for those in the hospital."

Hunter Lopez grew up in Southern California and both of his parents are employees of the Riverside County Sheriff's department.

A statement from the department said Lopez was 22 years old and "planned on following his parent’s footsteps and becoming a Riverside County Sheriff’s Deputy after returning home from his current deployment. "

The statement said Lopez joined the Marines in 2017 and was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines.

11:38 a.m. ET, August 28, 2021

Remains of 13 service members on way back to US

From CNN's Brian Rokus

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said that the remains of the 13 US service members killed in Afghanistan are en route to the United States but said he was “not at liberty” to provide precise arrival information.

Some context: President Biden vowed to retaliate for a terrorist attack Thursday that killed the service members and at least 170 others outside Kabul's international airport.

ISIS in Khorasan, known as ISIS-K, has claimed that an ISIS militant carried out Thursday's suicide attack at an airport gate, but provided no evidence to support the claim. US officials have said the group was likely behind the bombing. 

11:43 a.m. ET, August 28, 2021

US forces have begun "retrograding" from Kabul airport, Pentagon press secretary says

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said the US military has “begun retrograding” from the Hamid Karzai International airport and noted that the US is “still in charge of airport” and the security.

Joint Staff deputy director for regional operations Army Maj. Gen. William "Hank" Taylor also noted, “we’re going to continue to operate the airport up until the end… We will continue to run that airfield to make sure that we can execute our operations.”

Kirby said the Taliban is not on the airport and not manning gates.

John would not provide the number of troops who have left.

11:34 a.m. ET, August 28, 2021

Pentagon calls Kabul airport threats "real" and "dynamic"

From CNN's Michael Conte

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby holds a briefing in Washington, DC, on August 28, 2021.
Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby holds a briefing in Washington, DC, on August 28, 2021. Pool

The Pentagon said the threats to the airport in Kabul are “still very real” and “very dynamic.”

“We are monitoring them literally in real-time,” said Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby during a briefing Saturday. “We’re taking all the means necessary to make sure we remain focused on that threat stream, and doing what we can for force protection.”

11:23 a.m. ET, August 28, 2021

5,400 Americans have been evacuated out of Afghanistan, US general says

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor, deputy director of the Joint Staff For Regional Operations, gave an update on how many Americans and Afghans have been evacuated out of Kabul as of Saturday.

Taylor said the total number of evacuees is more than 117,000. Sixty-six flights with 6,800 evacuees left Kabul in a 24-hour period yesterday, he said. About 1,400 people at Hamid Karzai International Airport "have been screened and manifested for flights today," he said.

Taylor said the "vast majority" of evacuees are Afghans, but 5,400 of the total number are US citizens.

He then gave an update on refugees arriving in the United States.

"Our total capacity across multiple US installations is approximately 21,000 and growing. We're steadily working to increase the capacity to 50,000 by Sept. 15. Right now, we are hosting approximately 8,000 Afghan applicants at Fort McCoy, Fort Bliss, Fort Lee and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst," he said.   

11:33 a.m. ET, August 28, 2021

2 "high-profile ISIS targets" were killed during drone strike in Afghanistan Friday, US general says

Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor, deputy director of the Joint Staff For Regional Operations, speaks at a briefing in Washington, DC, on August 28, 2021.
Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor, deputy director of the Joint Staff For Regional Operations, speaks at a briefing in Washington, DC, on August 28, 2021. Pool

Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor, deputy director of the Joint Staff For Regional Operations, confirmed that two "high-profile ISIS targets" were killed Friday during a drone strike undertaken in Afghanistan.

"I can confirm, as more information has come in, that two high-profile ISIS targets were killed, and one was wounded. And we know of zero civilian casualties. Without specifying any future plans, I will say that we will continue to have the ability to defend ourselves and to leverage over the horizon capability to conduct counterterrorism operations as needed," Taylor said during a news briefing Saturday.

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said all the targets were hit in a single strike, and that they were “ISIS-K planners and facilitators.”

Some context: President Biden approved the strike against the ISIS-K planner, an official said Friday.

According to a statement from Central Command spokesperson Capt. Bill Urban, "the unmanned airstrike occurred in the Nangarhar Province of Afghanistan."

11:16 a.m. ET, August 28, 2021

Afghan girl born on evacuation flight

From CNN's Isil Sariyuce and Sharif Paget

An Afghan baby girl was born Saturday morning during an evacuation flight operated by Turkish Airlines, the airline said in a statement.

Soman Noori, 26, "gave birth at 10 thousand meters [32,808 feet] above ground," Turkish Airlines said. The birth was assisted by the cabin crew and the baby and mother are both doing well.

After the flight left Dubai for the United Kingdom, Noori gave birth at around 4 a.m. (Turkish time) over Kuwait's airspace, according to Turkish Airlines.

"After the pregnant passenger informed the cabin crew about her labor pains, the crew asked whether there was a doctor in the aircraft," the statement read. "Due to no doctor being available on the flight, cabin crew facilitated the birth in accordance with their training."

The flight landed in Kuwait as a precaution and continued its journey to Birmingham with the baby girl and her family, Turkish Airlines said.

The father Taj Moh Hammat, 30, and Soman Noori named their daughter Havva. She is their third child.