'last vestiges of hope'
The attacks in Kabul that killed a "number of U.S. service members" Thursday will likely serve as the "de facto end" of the United States' noncombatant evacuation efforts in Afghanistan, a former Pentagon official said.
Ahead of President Biden's Aug. 31 Afghanistan evacuation deadline, explosions outside of the Kabul airport left at least four U.S. Marines and 60 Afghans dead, according to The Wall Street Journal. Former senior Defense Department official William Wechsler told The Washington Post the attacks are likely to mean the end of the U.S.-led evacuation of anyone other than the military.
"While it is likely to be denied publicly, the terrorist attack is also likely to mark the de facto end of the formal U.S.-led noncombatant evacuation operation," Wechsler told the Post. "The deadline of the end of the month is fast approaching anyway, and the necessary operational pause that will ensue from the bombing will likely eliminate the last vestiges of hope of remain in the tens if not hundreds of thousands of Afghans who are desperate to flee the country."
The United States had "evacuated and facilitated the evacuation of" over 95,000 people since Aug. 14, the White House said, and last week, President Biden vowed that "any American who wants to come home, we will get you home." Biden also promised that the United States would make this "same commitment" to all those Afghans who assisted in the war effort, though he added that he could not "promise" that the evacuation would "be without risk of loss."