the Defense Department posted photos of U.S. service members assisting with efforts to help Afghan refugees on Thursday, as the Biden administration intensifies efforts to evacuate thousands of people seeking to escape the Taliban.
The photos showed US troops serving lunch to Afghan refugees completing special immigration requests, a US Marine escorting civilians through a security check at the Kabul airport, and Afghan civilians preparing to board a transport plane. to evacuate the country.
Other images showed US Army soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division arriving in Kabul to assist with the ongoing evacuation. More than 5,200 US troops are currently on the ground in the capital city.
In another photo, a member of the US Air Force greeted employees of the now-closed US embassy as they prepared to fly to Kuwait via Qatar Airways.
The photos were released amid intense scrutiny of the Biden administration’s handling of the evacuation effort ahead of the Aug. 31 deadline. So far, more than 7,000 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan.
About 2,000 people have been evacuated in the past 24 hours, Pentagon officials said Thursday. That number was well below the Pentagon’s expected target of 5,000 to 9,000 evacuees per day. Transport planes leave Kabul with less than their total capacity of 300 passengers, and there have been reports of Taliban militants preventing people from reaching the airport.
Another 6,000 people “have been fully processed by our consular team and will soon be boarding planes,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.