A harrowing report from outside the airport in Kabul shows that the situation in Afghanistan has gotten so dangerous, tense and time-sensitive that even battle-hardened troops said they have never seen anything like it.
Stuart Ramsay, reporting for Sky News early Saturday morning, described what he saw in what is now the second weekend of a dash to get out of Afghanistan for westerners and Afghan nationals who are hoping to escape from the Taliban.
“Every day the scene outside the British evacuation camp changes, every day it seems to get worse and this day there is a new sense of desperation,” Ramsay reported.
“Collectively I think the thousands queuing outside in burning temperatures know that the clock is ticking on how long this airlift will go on for.”
"Thousands, maybe tens of thousands, crushed as far as the eye can see. At the front, Taliban militants beat Afghans with canes."@ramsaysky reports from Kabul airport on the "desperation" as thousands queue in the hope of fleeing Afghanistan.
Read more: https://t.co/Nrh0z3BvoQ
— Sky News (@SkyNews) August 21, 2021
The Sky News veteran reporter admitted that he’s found himself growing emotional watching people, thousands of them, line up in hopes they will be airlifted out of the country.
Most of them will remain, he said.
“The narrow road that passes the compound, so often jammed with people right up to the doors of the entrance, is now blocked by two shipping containers,” Ramsay reported. “It means that there is at least some breathing space for the soldiers to attempt to process people — although it’s still chaotic.”
“Beyond the containers and beyond a line of paratroopers standing behind riot shields, it is quite simply horrendous,” he added.
The situation at the airport gate is now the epicenter of desperation as more and more people flood to the city’s airport every day.
On one side of the buffer zone between chaos and hope for evacuation are U.S. and British troops. On the other side are Taliban fighters whose acts of reported cruelty are widespread.
Everyone else is caught in the middle, Ramsay reported.
"This is the worst day by far."@ramsaysky says the situation at Kabul's airport is "utterly horrendous", and that 'hardened soldiers' told him its the "worst thing they have ever seen in their entire career" pic.twitter.com/dQwo47HMiQ
— Sky News (@SkyNews) August 21, 2021
Ramsay described the situation as “utterly horrendous,” noting that swelling crowds have bunched together and several people are believed to have died on Saturday morning.
Despite President Joe Biden’s decision to downplay the humanitarian crisis in Kabul, the situation is challenging members of the military who have served in combat for years, according to Sky News.
Soldiers who spoke to Ramsay said the situation on Saturday was the “worst thing they have ever seen in their entire careers,” he said.
Sky News reported that Americans, Britons and Canadians are struggling to break through the line, but some are not finding any success. The situation seems more perilous for Afghanis who know what fate they face if they remain when the rescue operation concludes.
British paratroopers and American soldiers are attempting to evacuate people, many of whom do not have any paperwork to leave the country. But there is no order to the historic airlift.
Despite endless reports such as these on the ground, the Biden administration has defended the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan as being one that was unavoidable.
Biden has remained defiant this past week in the face of international criticism and bipartisan scorn.
George Stephanopoulos with ABC News on Wednesday told Biden of reports of “pandemonium outside the airport.”
The president’s strategy with regard to mitigating acts of violence and situations involving cruelty by the Taliban was to knock on wood during the interview.