The U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs late Wednesday tweeted a warning to U.S. citizens at the gates of Kabul airport, advising people to “leave immediately.”
State Department issues travel warning to Americans at Kabul airport
The warning comes on the same day that Secretary of State Antony Blinken said up to 1,500 Americans could remain in Afghanistan, as the deadline for U.S. withdrawal approaches.
Earlier on Wednesday, the White House said some 19,000 people were evacuated from Afghanistan by U.S. and allied military forces on Tuesday.
President Joe Biden said Tuesday that the United States is on track to evacuate from the country all U.S. and allied citizens, as well as Afghans who qualify for special immigrant visas or are at risk of persecution by the Taliban, by Aug. 31.
“The sooner we can finish, the better. Every day of operations poses an added risk to our troops,” the president said.
To meet the Aug. 31 deadline, U.S. military forces will have to stop evacuating people from the airport days before the final troop withdrawal, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Tuesday.
That means the window for evacuating refugees and others is even closer than the official end of the U.S. presence on the ground.
State Department warns US citizens at Kabul airport
The U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs warned Americans at three gates of the chaotic Kabul airport to “leave immediately.”
The full tweet, sent around 7 p.m. Eastern time Wednesday, read:
“#Afghanistan: Due to threats outside the Kabul airport, US citizens should avoid traveling to the airport and avoid airport gates unless you receive instructions to do so. Those at the Abbey Gate, East Gate, or North Gate now should leave immediately,” the tweet read.
Australia offered similar advice to its citizens, with an alert reading: “Do not travel to Kabul airport. If you’re in the area of the airport, move to a safe location and await further advice.”
The alert comes as the Biden administration has increasingly warned about the threat of an ISIS-K terrorist attack at the Kabul airport as the Aug. 31 U.S. deadline to withdraw draws near.