Pentagon chief: Americans ‘beaten’ by Taliban in Afghanistan
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has told congressional lawmakers that Americans who are trying to leave Afghanistan have been beaten by Taliban fighters, according to several people who participated in the meeting.
During the briefing call on Friday, Austin described the reports of Taliban beatings as “unacceptable,” but he did not provide details on how the US military would ensure Americans’ safe passage to Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.
The Pentagon chief declined to “rule in or out” the possibility of American troops moving beyond the Kabul airport to protect Americans and others from the Taliban.
“We’re also aware that some people, including Americans, have been harassed and even beaten by the Taliban,” Austin said on the call, according to multiple sources. “This is unacceptable and [we] made it clear to the designated Taliban leader.”
Austin stated that “with the exception of those cases, we continue to see Americans and appropriately credentialed Afghans continue to move through.”
“We will work hard to evacuate as many people as we can between now and when we have to stop,” Austin said in an apparent reference to the August 31 withdrawal deadline. “If I’m given more time, I will take more time. … It’s unclear whether or not we’ll be able to do that.”
Commenting on Austin’s remarks, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby stated that the US has told the Taliban that it wants “free passage through these checkpoints for documented Americans,” adding: “By and large, that’s happening.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Mark Milley also participated in the House briefing. The briefing was arranged after lawmakers demanded answers about the botched US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban’s lightning-fast ascension to power.
Many US military veterans who fought in the wars against Iraq and Afghanistan have expressed disgust at American politicians who launched and supported the conflicts in those two nations, saying the US "lost the war" and the blood and money spent there was wasted.
"A hundred percent we lost the war," Jason Lilley, a member of US special forces who fought in multiple battles in Iraq and Afghanistan, said recently in an interview with Reuters.
"The whole point was to get rid of the Taliban and we didn't do that. The Taliban will take over," Lilley, 41, told Reuters.
Lilley was on the front lines of America's so-called “War on Terror” in Iraq and Afghanistan for almost 16 years, earning years of up-close experience of those devastating wars.
While in Afghanistan, Lilley said he grew to understand why historians have called it the "graveyard of empires."
Britain invaded Afghanistan twice in the 19th century and suffered one of its worst military defeats there in 1842. The Soviet Union occupied Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989, leaving after 15,000 of its troops were killed and tens of thousands were wounded.