Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby confirmed at the off-camera press briefing today that all flights “coming or going, military or civilian” at Hamid Karzai International Airport have been suspended.
“This is because of large crowds that are still on the tarmac on the southern side of the field, the civilian side of the field. U.S. military forces are on the scene working alongside Turkish and other — and other international troops to clear the area of people. We do not know how long this will take,” said Kirby.
In the meantime, all U.S. citizens, Special Immigrant Visa applicants and others should shelter in place.
“We’ve certainly seen all the dramatic video coming from the airport today, and we obviously don’t want anyone else to get hurt, so we’re going to work methodically in coming hours to restore a safe and secure environment so that air operations can resume,” he added.
The U.S. forces continue to assist the evacuation. Currently, there are approximately 2,500 U.S. troops at the airport. “Over the next 24 hours, we expect additional forces to arrive from both the 82nd Airborne Division and battalions from a Marine expeditionary unit. That should bring our force level to over 3,000 by tomorrow,” said Kirby and acknowledged that “the situation is very fluid and dynamic.” All military presence right now is focused on the airport. Pentagon expects that the U.S. troops will be going to be able to restore operations and reestablish security at the airpot.