President Biden appeared unwilling to bend to pressure, including from European allies at a virtual meeting of G-7 leaders, to continue a massive evacuation effort from Afghanistan, planning to stick to his Aug. 31 deadline for troop withdrawal.
Although Biden is inclined to agree with the Pentagon’s recommendation to draw down forces by next week, he could keep troops there longer if the Taliban interfered with U.S. evacuation efforts, an administration official said. Leaders of the Taliban, who have seized most of the country, including the capital and government, have warned of dire “consequences” if the U.S. misses the deadline set by Biden.
At a press conference in Kabul, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said an extension of the U.S. presence would be “a violation of the agreement” and suggested the extremist militant group would no longer allow Afghans passage to the airport beyond the deadline, according to an interpreter.
Marcus Yam is a foreign correspondent and photographer for the Los Angeles Times. Since joining in 2014, he has covered a wide range of topics including humanitarian issues, social justice, terrorism, foreign conflicts, natural disasters, politics and celebrity portraiture. He has been part of two Pulitzer Prize-winning breaking news teams and in 2019 was awarded the prestigious Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Journalism Award for his body of work documenting the everyday plight of Gazans during deadly clashes in the Gaza Strip.