Bittersweet photos show US troops caring for children of families fleeing the Taliban
- A massive evacuation effort is ongoing at the Kabul airport, where thousands are being taken out of Afghanistan.
- Amid scenes of panic and fear, the US military has released photos of its troops caring for children.
- The evacuation operation is set to end on August 31.
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The US, together with its international partners, is conducting a massive evacuation operation at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, where tens of thousands of people have been seeking a way out of Afghanistan in the wake of the Taliban taking over the country.
Efforts to evacuate people on military aircraft and other flights have been affected by all sorts of challenges, both inside and outside the airport.
Capturing a different side of the situation, the US military has released photos that are as heartwarming as they are heartbreaking of US troops caring for children waiting to be evacuated along with their families.
The US stepped up its efforts to evacuate US citizens, along with Afghans who supported the US war effort and their families, after a sweeping Taliban offensive that captured city after city and reached Kabul on August 15.
As the Taliban reached the capital, thousands of people rushed to the airport looking for a ride out of the country.
Amid the chaos at the airport, videos emerged of people swarming US military C-17 transport planes on the runway.
Some continued to cling to the aircraft after takeoff and fell to their deaths.
The US military, with the support of its international partners, has since managed to create a more stable situation at the airport, where thousands of people are now being evacuated each day.
The White House reported on Tuesday morning that over the previous 24 hours, 21,600 people were evacuated from the airport.
That figure included 12,700 on US military flights and 8,900 on over 50 coalition flights, according to Voice of America.
Though the situation has improved, there continue to be security issues at the airport, including an exchange of gunfire outside the gate on Monday in which an Afghan soldier was killed.
Outside the gates, the Taliban has also hindered people's efforts to reach the airport, the only way out at this point.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said on Tuesday that the US is working to evacuate any American that wants to depart Afghanistan and as many at-risk Afghans as possible, but the current deadline for the end of the drawdown of American forces and the evacuation operation is August 31.
The Taliban has warned that if the US attempts to carry out operations in Kabul past that deadline, there will be unspecified "consequences."
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