Desperate parents stranded in Afghanistan are continuing to go to heartbreaking lengths to get their children out of the country.
Another video has emerged showing a baby being passed from the mass of people outside Hamad Karzai International Airport to an American soldier.
In the footage, captured by human rights activist Omar Haidari, the soldier leans over the barbed wire at the top of a wall and lifts the infant from the arms of a man below, before handing the child to his fellow soldiers.
In a statement, the US Marine Corps confirmed the baby seen in the video was subsequently “taken to a medical treatment facility on site” and cared for by medical professionals.
Thankfully, the baby was later reuinted with its father inside the airport.
This is not the first instance of Afghan parents parting with their children in the hope of ensuring their safety.
“It was terrible. Women were throwing their babies over the razor wire, asking British soldiers to take them. Some got caught in the wire,” one UK officer told Sky News this week.
“The mothers were desperate, they were getting beaten by the Taliban. They shouted, ‘Save my baby,’ and threw the babies at us,” another officer told The Independent.
“It was awful, what happened. By the end of the night there wasn’t one man among us who was not crying.”
Thousands of people have gathered outside the airport in Kabul all week, desperate to escape the country as the Taliban takes control. Many have the documents they require including, in some cases, green cards, which grant them permanent residency in the US.
Thousands of American citizens have yet to be evacuated, and the US embassy in Kabul has warned it cannot “ensure safe passage” to the airport for them.
The various entrances to the airport are being guarded by Taliban checkpoints.
Meanwhile, despite its public promise not to seek “retribution” against Afghans who helped US, UK and NATO forces, Taliban fighters have reportedly been going door-to-door, hunting for those people.
Yesterday a horrifying video was posted online showing the police chief of an Afghan province, Haji Mullah Achakzai, being executed. It showed him kneeling with his eyes blindfolded and his hands tied in front of him, before being shot and left to die.
Mr Achakzai was targeted standing up to the Taliban and fighting alongside the Afghan army.
US President Joe Biden, who has been heavily criticised over his country’s botched withdrawal, spoke about the crisis at the White House today.
Under questioning today, Mr Biden vowed to evacuate all Afghans who helped the US, making the same commitment to them as to his own country’s citizens.
“Yes. We’re making the same commitment,” Mr Biden said.
“There’s no one more important than bringing American citizens out, I acknowledge that.
“But equally important, almost, is all those SIVs, we call them, who helped us. They were translators, they went into battle with us, they were part of the operation.”
Afghans who helped the US are eligible for a Special Immigrant Visa. Some SIV applicants have already left the country, but tens of thousands more are still in the middle of the lengthy application process.
The reporter asked whether Mr Biden would be willing to keep US forces in Afghanistan past the current deadline of August 31 to ensure all Americans and Afghan SIV recipients get out.
“I think we can get it done by then, but we’re going to make that judgment as we go,” Mr Biden responded.
“We’re going to do everything we can to provide safe evacuation for our Afghan allies.
“Any American who wants to come home, we will get you home.”
The President said there will be “plenty of time to criticise and second guess” when the evacuation is over.
“But now I’m focused on getting this job done.”
The August 31 goal seems increasingly far-fetched.
The Pentagon has said it aims to have a plane leaving Kabul each hour, but today those flights were put on pause for an extended period. According to reporters on the ground, no planes at all left for 10 hours.
The facility the US has been using to house evacuees in Qatar was nearing its full capacity, hampering the evacuation effort, and the country is now seeking to secure additional locations in other countries, such as Germany.
In an interview with Good Morning America host George Stephanopoulos earlier this week, Mr Biden conceded that US troops might have to stay in Afghanistan past August 31 to continue the evacuation.
“If there are American citizens left, we’re going to stay to get them all out,” he said.
That answer was of little comfort for the Afghans who might still be left behind, their lives in danger for having helped the US.
Mr Biden has been notably absent from the public eye throughout the crisis. He was at the presidential retreat, Camp David, when Kabul fell, and has since limited his appearances to one address and the interview with Stepanopoulos.
At another media conference focused on the coronavirus pandemic, he did not mention Afghanistan and took no questions.
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During the interview, Mr Biden insisted the withdrawal could not have been executed more smoothly, despite the chaos in Kabul.
“You don’t think this could have been handled, this exit, better in any way? No mistakes?” asked Stephanopoulos.
“No,” the President insisted.
“I don’t think it could have been handled in a way that – we’re going to go back, in hindsight, and look. But the idea that somehow there’s a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, I don’t know how that happens.”
“How about our Afghan allies? We have about 80,000 people,” said Stephanopoulos.
“That’s too high,” said Mr Biden.
“The estimate we’re giving is somewhere between 50,000 and 65,000 folks total, counting their families.”
“Does the commitment hold for them as well?” the interviewer asked.
“The commitment holds to get everyone out that, in fact, we can get out,” he answered.
“That’s the objective. That’s what we’re doing now, and I think we’ll get there.”