August 30 Afghanistan-Taliban news

By Melissa Mahtani, Melissa Macaya, Veronica Rocha, Brad Lendon, Jessie Yeung and Sheena McKenzie, CNN

Updated 6:00 a.m. ET, August 31, 2021
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1:43 p.m. ET, August 30, 2021

US Kabul drone strike death toll rises to 10

From CNN's Sandi Sidhu

A funeral is held for the victims who were killed in a US defensive airstrike in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Sunday.
A funeral is held for the victims who were killed in a US defensive airstrike in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Sunday. CNN

The remains of a two-year-old girl were identified by family members in Kabul today as the 10th person to have died in Sunday's US drone strike, Omid Haqparast, a family member told CNN.

The remains of the girl, named Malika, were recovered on Monday. 

According to the family, Malika had been missing after the airstrike. They went to several hospitals but were unable to find her. When they came back to the airstrike site, near where they live, they began searching again, and somehow found her remains at the scene – a day after the airstrike.

The US carried out a defensive airstrike in Kabul Sunday, targeting a suspected ISIS-K suicide bomber who posed an "imminent" threat to the airport, US Central Command said.

Haqparast told CNN it is unclear whether Malika was inside the vehicle or in the compound that was targeted by the drone on Sunday.

Relatives of the 10 victims spent Monday at a Kabul hospital identifying remains and separating them into coffins.

Two of the coffins were marked with the names Malika and Sumaya. Both girls were two-years-old and the youngest victims of Sunday's airstrike, according to the family.

The funerals took place on Monday for the 10 family members killed on the hill of Khawja Rawash. Family members shouted "Death to America" as they gathered around the coffins.

Some more background: The US strike came after two bombing attacks on Thursday outside Kabul's airport that killed 13 US service members and at least 60 Afghans, according to the Pentagon and Afghanistan's Ministry of Public Health.

The deadly blasts occurred as the United States and other Western countries raced to complete a massive evacuation of their citizens and Afghan allies following the Taliban takeover of the country.

The US military said in their statement on Sunday that there were “Significant secondary explosions from the vehicle indicated the presence of a substantial amount of explosive material.”

Maj. Gen. Bill Taylor, Joint Staff deputy director for regional operations, told a press briefing Monday: "We are aware of reports of civilians casualties. We take these reports extremely seriously"

On Monday, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said the US works hard to avoid civilian casualties.

“We're investigating this. I'm not going to get ahead of it. But if we have significant – verifiable information that we did take innocent life here, then we will be transparent about that, too. Nobody wants to see that happen,” he said. 

“But you know what else we didn't want to see happen. We didn't want to see happen what we believe to be a very real, a very specific and a very imminent threat to the Hamid Karzai International Airport and to our troops operating at the airport as well as civilians around it and in it and that is another thing that we were very concerned about.”

11:36 a.m. ET, August 30, 2021

Pentagon: "Threat stream is still real" and "active" to Kabul airport

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman

Pool
Pool

The “threat stream is still real. It’s still active, and, in many cases, it’s still specific,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said when asked if another attack on the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul was still likely.

“We’re taking it very seriously and we will right up until the end,” Kirby said.

Kirby said after the US conducted a drone strike on a vehicle heading towards Kabul airport on Sunday, there were rocket attacks on the airport.

“We are operating under the assumption that we need to be prepared for future potential threats,” Kirby said. “And as the general detailed for you in his opening statement, there was in fact, after we took this air strike, there were rocket attacks, indirect fire rocket attacks on the airport.”
12:45 p.m. ET, August 30, 2021

Former Afghan special forces commandos may be incorporated into British army, source says

From CNN’s Sam Kiley

Former Afghan Special Forces commandos may be incorporated into the British army after fleeing Kabul, according to one senior source in the United Kingdom’s Defense Ministry.

The source spoke on the condition of anonymity because the plan has yet to be formalized.  

The idea, according to the UK’s Press Association, has the support of Conservative MPs who are also military veterans including Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, and Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the defense select committee.

The timeline for discussion of the proposal within Parliament is currently unclear.  

The proposal is to incorporate hundreds of Afghans who have had intense training from British Special forces, and years of combat experience, into the army either as a regiment in its own right or by absorbing the soldiers into other units. 

“We can’t treat them like the Poles in ‘45 otherwise they’ll all become Uber drivers,” said one senior defense source. 

An Defense Ministry source close to Defense Secretary Ben Wallace speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the Cabinet minister was “considering a variety of options within Operation Warm Welcome.​"

First reported in the Daily Telegraph the plan to absorb the Afghan troops would be a way of keeping the expensively trained soldiers’ skills available to British generals – much like Britain’s other “foreign legion” the Brigade of Gurkhas, who are recruited from Nepal.

11:05 a.m. ET, August 30, 2021

At least 34 unaccompanied Afghan children have arrived in the US, official says

From CNN's Priscilla Alvarez and Geneva Sands

At least 34 Afghan children who were evacuated arrived in the United States without parents, according to an administration official, although some have already been reunited with family in the country.

The children are placed into the care of the Health and Human Services Department, which oversees an expansive shelter network to house minors until they can be reunited with a sponsor, such as a parent or guardian in the US. The unaccompanied children arriving from Afghanistan are placed into that network until they can be relocated.

The figure, first reported by CBS, is small compared to the hundreds of migrant children who are transferred to HHS care daily from the US southern border, though it underscores the frenzied evacuation out of Afghanistan. HHS did not immediately respond to a CNN request for comment.  

CNN earlier reported about four young siblings who landed in the US on Sunday after hiding in Afghanistan’s capital. They are waiting to be reunite with their mother, who lives in the US.

The administration has implemented additional medical support for vulnerable populations, including unaccompanied children, according to DHS Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pritesh Gandhi, who was speaking on a call to local and state law enforcement Friday. State health officials, as well as staff from HHS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are also assisting, he said. 

There is a standardized process for all arrivals from Afghanistan to the United States, which includes Covid-19 testing and potential quarantine. Covid-19 vaccinations are also available at both Dulles and Philadelphia airportts, the airports being used for arrivals. 

"We are acutely aware that this is a vulnerable community who has gone through so much, and will continue to have challenges in terms of access to health care and other services and so we wanted to ensure that Covid vaccinations are available," Gandhi said for all Afghans arriving in the US. 

Full medical care, including, tuberculosis screening, MMR vaccination and polio vaccination, is available at the military bases, where many Afghans are being temporarily housed in the US. 

12:01 p.m. ET, August 30, 2021

UK has evacuated more than 15,000 people from Afghanistan

From CNN's Nina Avramova,

British military personnel depart a C-17 aircraft at Royal Air Force Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, late Sunday, August 29. The final UK troops and diplomatic staff were airlifted from Kabul on Saturday, drawing to a close Britain's 20-year engagement in Afghanistan and a two-week operation to rescue UK nationals and Afghan allies.
British military personnel depart a C-17 aircraft at Royal Air Force Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, late Sunday, August 29. The final UK troops and diplomatic staff were airlifted from Kabul on Saturday, drawing to a close Britain's 20-year engagement in Afghanistan and a two-week operation to rescue UK nationals and Afghan allies. Peter Nicholls/Pool/AP

The UK has evacuated a total of 15,063 people from Afghanistan since Aug. 13, the country’s Home Office tweeted Monday. 

More than 8,500 of the evacuated are at-risk Afghans, who are part of the country’s ARAP (Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy) re-settlement scheme for Afghan nationals that have supported British efforts in Afghanistan. 

“Our commitment to the people of Afghanistan will endure,” adds the tweet. 

12:04 p.m. ET, August 30, 2021

About 1,200 people evacuated from Afghanistan in last 24 hours, Pentagon says

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman

About 1,200 evacuees departed Afghanistan on 26 military C-17 aircrafts in the last 24 hours, Gen. Hank Taylor, deputy director of Regional Operations for the Joint Staff, said during a briefing at the Pentagon on Monday. In total, 28 flights departed from Kabul airport in the last 24 hours, he added.

More than 122,000 people – including 5,400 Americans – have departed Afghanistan as of today, Taylor added. 

Now, evacuees are awaiting follow-on transport in both the US Central Command area of responsibility which covers the Middle East and the European Command area of responsibility which covers Europe. 

Another 27,000 evacuees are waiting for “follow-on movement from six active locations,” in the US Central Command area, and 22,000 people are waiting for follow on movement in the European Command area, Taylor said.

There are 13,000 evacuees that remain at five different locations in the Northern Command area of responsibility, Taylor added. 

17 flights will transport more than 3,700 people to both Dulles and Philadelphia International Airports today, Taylor said.

“These numbers are a snapshot in time and movement of personnel is very fluid. We do not expect these passenger totals to match the total number of evacuees from Afghanistan nor will they match the total number of evacuees in the United States,” Taylor said.

11:10 a.m. ET, August 30, 2021

Pentagon says military operations ongoing in Afghanistan

From CNN's Michael Conte

Pool
Pool

The Pentagon said military operations are still are continuing in Afghanistan ahead of President Biden's Aug. 31 deadline to withdraw US troops.

Joint Staff deputy director for regional operations Army Maj. Gen. William "Hank" Taylor said the focus is on the security of the US troops who are still in Kabul but they continue to have capability to evacuate Afghans until the very end.

Taylor did note that, “while operations in Afghanistan will conclude soon, the DOD effort to support the interagency is ongoing.”

10:58 a.m. ET, August 30, 2021

Uzbekistan closes its borders to Afghan refugees 

From CNN’s Anna Chernova

The Uzbek-Afghan border is now completely closed and no land crossings are allowed through the Termez checkpoint, the Uzbek Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday.

“In order to ensure security, the Uzbek-Afghan border is currently completely closed and land crossing through the Termez checkpoint is not carried out,” said the statement posted on the website of Uzbekistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, adding that the opening of the Termez checkpoint on the Uzbek-Afghan border is not planned any time soon.

According to the Ministry, attempts to cross the Uzbek-Afghan land border, regardless of their reasons, will be “suppressed in accordance with the legislation of the Republic of Uzbekistan.”

Previously, Uzbekistan allowed people from Afghanistan to fly into Uzbekistan as a transit point on their way to other countries, but, the Ministry stated, the country does not accept any refugees from Afghanistan on its territory.

“Over the past 12 days, Uzbekistan has provided assistance to a number of states in the implementation of humanitarian operations to evacuate its citizens from Afghanistan, who arrived in Uzbekistan and left Uzbekistan exclusively by air. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterates that the Republic of Uzbekistan does not accept Afghan refugees on its territory, [Uzbekistan] provides assistance in transit which implies their strictly limited time in the country,” the MFA message reads. 

The Uzbek officials emphasized that the country is “firmly committed to maintaining traditionally friendly and good-neighborly relations with Afghanistan and the principles of non-interference in the internal affairs of the neighboring country”.

10:25 a.m. ET, August 30, 2021

UN Security Council expected to vote on resolution calling for safe passage from Kabul after US departs

From CNN's Richard Roth

US soldiers board a US Air Force aircraft at the airport in Kabul on August 30, 2021.
US soldiers board a US Air Force aircraft at the airport in Kabul on August 30, 2021. Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images

Two United Nations diplomats tell CNN they expect the UN Security Council to vote to approve a resolution calling for a safe passage area for people wanting leave Kabul airport after the US departs.

The vote would be after 3 p.m. ET Monday, however timing could change.

France, the United Kingdom and non-Council member Germany proposed a Security Council resolution calling for safe passage for those leaving Afghanistan, that would include counterterrorism, human rights, and humanitarian elements, CNN reported over the weekend.

It is not clear yet if China and Russia are fully on board.

Apparently, security for a safe passage zone will be left to the Taliban, according one diplomat.

The Taliban remains on several UN terrorism lists.