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Air base holding Afghan evacuees filled to capacity

▶ Watch Video: Evacuees from Afghanistan flown to Germany and Qatar

The chaos at Kabul’s airport is conflicting with President Joe Biden’s reassuring words in a speech Friday. A Defense Department official said U.S. troops evacuated around 5,700 people Friday, including around 250 Americans, from Kabul. 

Evacuees who were lucky enough to get out of Afghanistan were flown to Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany on Friday. Those Afghan evacuees can stay at Ramstein for several weeks, according to U.S. military officials.

Other evacuees were flown 1,200 miles to Doha, Qatar on the Persian Gulf. But with so many evacuees flying to Doha over the past few days, space at Doha is starting to become limited. U.S. officials say there’s simply no more room here to process them. Al Udeid Air Base hit capacity on Friday, forcing the U.S. to suspend flights for hours at Kabul airport until it could find other countries, like Germany, to agree to transit evacuees through their territories to safety.

Thousands of Americans and Afghans have attempted to get past Taliban fighters and a crushing crowd, fearing they’ll be left behind without the protection of U.S. troops. Some Afghans trying to get on a flight tell CBS News many people who aren’t necessarily in imminent danger have turned up at the airport and they’re getting in the way of others who need to get out.

The packed airports and rescue missions are just a sign of how many people in Afghanistan are still waiting and hoping that U.S. troops will fly them out. Just beyond the airport walls, the Pentagon says it dispatched three helicopters to rescue nearly 170 American citizens from a hotel. CBS News’ Roxana Saberi and her crew stayed at the hotel but left two days before the helicopter rescues began. 

One man told CBS News that he is trying to flee because he worked for the U.S. government but he has yet to get a visa. “I haven’t received that. Most people haven’t received that,” he said.

Afghans like him fear the Taliban’s tightening grip over the capital. One Taliban leader, Khalil Haqqan, is on the U.S. terrorist list. He spoke at Friday’s prayers — a stark reminder of who’s now in charge.


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