U.S. focused on securing Kabul airport after chaos

WASHINGTON, Aug 16 (Reuters) - The United States will focus on securing the Kabul airport and additional U.S. forces will flow into the airport on Monday and Tuesday, U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Jon Finer said, as people tried to flee a day after Taliban insurgents seized the Afghan capital.

The United States has temporarily halted all evacuation flights from Kabul to clear people who had converged on the airfield, a U.S. defense official told Reuters, but did not say how long the pause would last.

The defense official said the United States aims get tens of thousands of at-risk Afghans who worked for the U.S. government out of Afghanistan and was looking at temporarily housing them at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin and Fort Bliss in Texas.

Five people were killed in chaos at Kabul airport on Monday, witnesses said, as people tried to flee after Taliban insurgents seized Kabul and declared the war against foreign and local forces over. read more

The United States was focused intensively on securing the Kabul airport on Monday, U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Jon Finer told MSNBC. The goal was to continue civilian evacuation flights for American citizens in Afghanistan, Afghans who worked alongside the U.S. over the past 20 years and for other particularly vulnerable Afghans, he said.

Additional U.S. forces will be flowing into the airport on Monday and Tuesday to provide security, Finer added.

Taliban insurgents took control of the Afghan capital Kabul on Sunday following a rout of the U.S.-backed Afghan army as foreign forces withdrew from Afghanistan.

The Pentagon will provide temporary housing in the United States for up to 22,000 Afghans applying for Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs), available to interpreters and others who assisted the U.S. government in Afghanistan. Those provided housing would include family members of the applicants and other vulnerable Afghans, a spokesperson said on Monday.

The U.S. military will also fly up to 30,000 people out of Kabul, including embassy personnel, U.S. citizens, Afghan SIV applicants and other at-risk individuals.

Of that total, 8,000 will be transported to a third country for visa processing, with the other 22,000 heading to the United States.

Advocates estimate 50,000 to 80,000 SIV applicants and family members require evacuation, but the Biden administration thus far has only evacuated a fraction of that total.

Reporting by Idrees Ali, Daphne Psaledakis, Lisa Lambert, Humeyra Pamuk and Ted Hesson; Editing by Giles Elgood and Nick Zieminski

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