1 hr 16 min agoHere’s a look at the Kabul airport perimeter and the journey Afghans must make to get inside From CNN’s Jennifer Hansler, Clarissa Ward, Brent Swails and Kara Fox
Chaotic scenes played out around Kabul airport again on Friday as thousands of people desperate to leave Afghanistan tried to get on one of the evacuation flights.
In the days since the Afghan capital fell to the Taliban, the United States has scrambled to secure the Hamid Karzai International Airport and evacuate US citizens and vulnerable Afghans amid the extremely fluid situation on the ground.
Military and diplomatic efforts are underway to press the Taliban to ensure safe passage for those trying to reach the airport, but for now the route there is fraught with uncertainty for Afghans looking to flee, as they must first make their way through often violent and arbitrary Taliban checks.
The US Embassy in Kabul has advised Americans that it “cannot ensure safe passage to the airport,” and Defense and State Department officials have said they do not have the capacity to retrieve US citizens from Kabul and bring them to the airport for evacuation flights.
Those who are able to reach the airport perimeter have reported waiting hours to enter and the US Embassy advised in a recent security alert that “due to large crowds and security concerns, gates may open or close without notice.”
“Please use your best judgment and attempt to enter the airport at any gate that is open,” it said.
Afghans who make it through the gates are then subjected to further scrutiny by Afghan special forces, who are facing accusations of similar brutality.
Here’s a look at a map of the Kabul airport and the areas controlled by the Taliban:
1 hr 12 min agoMilitary cargo flight, captured in photo packed with Afghans, flew even more people than originally reportedFrom CNN’s Ellie Kaufman
The US military cargo plane, whose hold filled with Afghans evacuating their country was captured in a now famous photo, flew more than 800 people on board – far more than originally confirmed by the Air Force, according to the crew who flew the mission.
The crew of a C-17 US military cargo plane flew 823 people out of Kabul on an evacuation flight on Aug. 15, the crew said in an interview Friday on CNN’s New Day. It was previously believed that the plane carried 640 people on it.
The photo of Afghans sitting shoulder-to-shoulder, packed into the hold, went viral after it was published by Defense One.
The massive number of people is a record to fly on the US Air Force’s C-17 Globemaster III, a military plane that can be used to carry both cargo and passengers when needed, US Air Force spokesperson Hope Cronin said. The C-17 has been in operation for almost three decades.
“Our 640 number was a little underestimated, we actually carried 823 out,” Technical Sergeant Justin Triola, one of the plane’s crew members, said.
A radio transmission of the crew with air traffic control highlights how extraordinary the flight was. When the pilot informed air traffic control of how many people were on board, the response was “holy hell.”
When the plane is being used to transport passengers, there are several configurations the plane’s crew can use to transport different numbers of people, ranging from 10 to 336 people at a time.
It is always at the discretion of the aircraft commander to determine what they can transport at any given time, Cronin said.
“While there are a range of standard configurations for C-17 passenger loads, this was a dynamic situation that required a dynamic solution,” Cronin said.The previous record of people flown on a C-17 was 670 people that were flown out by the US Air Force after Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines in 2013.
Lieutenant Colonel and C-17 Aircraft Commander Eric Kut, who authorized the mission to fly those people to safety, said they are “trained to handle that, to max perform that aircraft.”
Crew members of the C-17 that flew the 823 people to safety include Kut, Triola, Airman First Class Nicolas Baron, Captain Cory Jackson, First Lieutenant Mark Lawson, Staff Sergeant Derek Laurent and Senior Airman Richard Johnson.
“We have women and children and people’s lives at stake, it’s not about capacity, or rules and regulations, it’s about the training and the directives that we were able to handle to make sure that we could safely and effectively get that many people out and max perform those efforts,” Kut said.
Triola said the people on board the plane were “definitely anxious to get out of the area, and we were happy to accommodate them.”
“They were definitely excited once we were airborne,” he added.
1 hr 32 min agoRussian President Putin says outside forces must not impose their views on AfghanistanFrom CNN’s Zahra Ullah and Anna Chernova in Moscow
Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a news conference on Friday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that “the political reality” is that the Taliban controls most of Afghanistan, and outside forces must not impose their views on the country.
“The Taliban movement today controls almost the entire territory of the country, including the capital. This is the political reality, and one must proceed from these realities, preventing the collapse of the Afghan state,” Putin said.
“It is necessary to stop the irresponsible policy of imposing someone else’s values from the outside, the desire to build democracy from outside according to other people’s patterns, without taking into account any historical, cultural or religious peculiarities. Completely ignoring the traditions by which other peoples live,” he continued.”We know Afghanistan well, we know how this country is organized and how counterproductive it is to try to impose unusual forms of government and social life on it. Any such social and political experiments have not yet been successful and only lead to the destruction of the state, the degradation of their political and social systems,” Putin said.
“At the same time, we see that the Taliban have already announced the end of hostilities, have begun to establish public safety for local residents, foreign diplomatic missions,” he added.
Putin also said it
Those seeking sanctuary must reach Kabul’s airport perimeter, through often violent and arbitrary Taliban checks
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