A Washington Post reporter has shared how British troops helped her and friends flee Afghanistan – as pressure mounts over US forces’ continued refusal to leave Kabul airport.
Susannah George told of how she and the paper’s Afghan staff were able to latch on to a separate evacuation led by UK troops, after spotting them and asking for help to flee.
That saw them hurriedly travel along a road to Kabul’s Hamid Karzai Airport in armored cars driven by private security guards.
Those roads were being guarded from Taliban interference by UK service personnel, before making it to the security gate of the airport itself, which was manned by American troops.
George did not offer further comment on the troops who helped save her, but the UK’s elite Special Air Service (SAS) have been drafted in to rescue Britons trapped in the war-torn country.
Her difficult journey contradicts President Biden’s assertion that anyone with an American passports would be allowed through checkpoints.
The Washington Post ‘s Susannah George (pictured) told her harrowing tale of trying to escape Afghanistan accompanied by her Afghan colleagues and their children
A full flight of 265 people are evacuated out of Kabul by the UK Armed Forces on Saturday
Biden said the U.S has not extended their perimeter beyond Kabul airport to avoid the risk of having U.S. forces and civilians of being attacked by terrorist
George said security around the airport was ‘crumbling’ and that her Afghan co-worker Tassal and his young daughter were beaten by Taliban fighters as they waited on the civilian side of the airport for a flight that never arrived.
‘I will never forget how they beat my small daughter,’ Tassal told her as he showed her a dark blue bruise on her side. ‘They will never change. My country is gone forever.’
George recalled that the day The Post team was set to leave, British troops had arrived at the security compound where she was staying to escort a larger evacuation and she asked them to help escort her and her group, who were not far away, into the airport.
‘Initially, the men were cautious about helping us,’ she wrote. ‘We weren’t part of their evacuation, and the officer said they needed sign-off from the U.S. Embassy. But after a few phone calls, they agreed to wave Tassal, another Washington Post employee and their families through the Taliban checkpoint.’
‘I can let your guys through, but ma’am, if you leave them here, it’s just going to put them in more danger,’ George said the soldier told her.
The British troops were only planning to keep the road clear of Taliban fighters for an hour or two more until their evacuation was complete.
George says that after she met up with her group they piled into two rented armored cars driven by private security guards and approached the gate to the airport, passing by ‘ half-destroyed vehicles and dozens of desperate families held back by rows of barbed wire.’
They were able to make it along a road protected by UK troops, and up to the gate of the military section of Kabul’s Hamid Karzai Airport, which was manned by US soldiers.
The group made it past the gate and eventually into a makeshift terminal and the group was out on a U.S. military flight list, then later flew out on a C-17 with about 300 passengers on board.
‘We have no indication that they haven’t been able to get, in Kabul, through the airport,’ Biden said at a press conference on Friday.
American troops have not ventured past Kabul to assist Americans who couldn’t get to the airport, with Biden coming under increasing pressure as UK and German forces were revealed to have sent forces into the country to evacuate citizens and embassy workers.
On Friday the White House confirmed that the U.S military used three military helicopters to rescue 169 Americans outside Kabul Airport who were trapped at a nearby hotel.
When asked why the U.S has not extended their perimeter beyond Kabul airport Biden said it was to avoid the risk of having U.S. forces and civilians of being attacked by terrorist groups, including ISIS.
‘The reason why we have not gone out—it’s likely to draw a lot of unintended consequences,’ he said Friday.
But British and French allies have gone beyond the boundaries of Kabul airport and sent troops into the city to help recover their citizens.
Australian citizens and visa holders pictured on board a Royal Australian Air Force C-17A Globemaster
Troops help assist a child during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul
British armed forces are working with the U.S. military to evacuate eligible civilians and their families out of Afghanistan
Kabul airport has been the scene of chaos as Westerners and visa holders desperately trying to get to their flights say they are unable to check in because of the crowd of up to 50,000 desperate locals who are gathering at the gates.
At the main entrance, Taliban fighters periodically fire into the air to clear the crowd in an attempt to disperse the crowd – but video of the fighters unleashing a volley of automatic fire shows the terrifying gauntlet evacuees have to negotiate.
Taliban fighters were seen shooting over the heads of crowds, striking people with rifles, while those on the ground reported beatings and whippings being dished out seemingly at random.
Crowds have also gathered at the entrance to the military wing of the airport, which is guarded by US and British troops who have been firing into the air to disperse the crowds.
Westerners face a race against time to get out of Kabul, with control of the airport resting on the up to 60,000 troops.
Joe Biden has said they will stay until all US citizens are evacuated, but there are suspicions among British troops that they could leave abruptly – leaving the 600 British unable to keep operating to evacuate UK nationals and interpreters.
UK troops have said that firing warning shots is a last resort, the Taliban are causing pandemonium and were filmed today shooting from the hip just yards away from women and children, and whacking people with the butts of their rifles.
Such is the desperation among crowds at the airport that women have resorted to passing babies over barbed wire to soldiers in a vain attempt to get them out of the country.