Pentagon Backs Efforts by US Veterans to Evacuate Afghans

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FILE - In this Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021, file photo, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby speaks during a media briefing at the Pentagon, in Washington. Kirby announced late Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, that the U.S. military conducted airstrikes against facilities in eastern Syria that the Pentagon said were used by Iran-backed militia groups, in response to recent attacks against U.S. personnel in Iraq. Kirby said the action was authorized by President Joe Biden. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby stated Monday that the Defense Department supports US military veterans’ efforts to evacuate Afghans at risk from Afghanistan.

Kirby stated that Lloyd Austin, Defense Secretary, “shares the same concerns as so many veterans groups and individuals have for our Afghan allies who are still there and want to leave the country,” Kirby stated.

“You’ve heard him say many times that we believe we have a sacred obligation to those who helped us over the last 20 years,” the spokesman said. “Nothing’s changed about that so he shares their concerns and he welcomes their input.”

Many ex-military personnel who served in Afghanistan with the US have maintained contact with the Afghan troops with whom they were stationed, or their Afghan interpreters. They have expressed concern about their fate now the Taliban have taken power.

Some US military veterans started private initiatives to aid their Afghan counterparts fleeing the country. They sneaked them into Kabul airport to take evacuation flights.

The “Pineapple Express”, a group that claimed to have assisted in the evacuation of 630 Afghans, is continuing to reportedly help people get out of Afghanistan.

Kirby stated that there is no US military active role in these efforts.

“It doesn’t involve an active military component,” he said, “just the Defense Department helping facilitators, organizers make connections.”

A Pentagon spokesperson also stated that Afghans flying to the United States from other countries will be stopped for at most one week after multiple cases of measles have been reported among the evacuees.

“There have been five diagnosed cases of measles among new arrivals so far,” Kirby said.

In one of the most significant airlifts of its kind, the United States and its allies flew more than 120,000 Afghans out of Afghanistan.