Afghanistan updates: Milley, Austin face grilling in Senate hearing

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(NEW YORK) — It’s been nearly one month since the U.S. withdrew all U.S. troops from Afghanistan on President Joe Biden’s order, ending a chaotic evacuation operation after the Afghan government collapsed and the Taliban seized the capital Kabul.

Since then, the U.S. has facilitated the departure of at least 85 U.S. citizens and 79 lawful permanent residents, according to a senior State Department official. In the coming days, they expect to evacuate around 100 more U.S. citizens and residents from the Kabul area.

Even as the last American troops were flown out to meet Biden’s Aug. 31 deadline, other Americans who wanted to flee the country were left behind. The Biden administration is now focused on a “diplomatic mission” to help them leave but some hoping to evacuate are still stuck in the country. Meanwhile, the Taliban announced its new “caretaker” government that includes men with U.S. bounties on their heads — and no women.

Top Pentagon leaders appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday amid bipartisan criticism of the chaotic withdrawal and on the failure to anticipate the Taliban’s swift takeover of the country.

Here are the latest developments. All times Eastern:

Sep 28, 9:30 am
Top Pentagon officials testify before Senate on withdrawal

Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will face tough questions Tuesday from the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday on the U.S. military’s chaotic exit from Afghanistan. He’s also expected to address reporting that he went outside the regular chain of command with calls to China in the final days of former President Donald Trump’s presidency.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command, are also scheduled to appear before the Senate panel alongside Milley. Senators are expected to press the top Pentagon leaders on decisions surrounding the evacuation and of ongoing threats of terrorism in Afghanistan without a U.S. presence on the ground.

It’s been nearly one month since President Joe Biden withdrew all U.S. troops, ending an evacuation operation after the Afghan government collapsed and the Taliban seized the capital Kabul. In those final days, a U.S. drone strike killed at least 10 Afghan civilians, including seven children, an event lawmakers are expected to press military leaders upon on Tuesday.

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