Poland halts Afghan airlift over safety as US deadline looms

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Migrants wait in an area between the borders of Belarus and Poland near the village of Usnarz Gorny, Poland, on Friday Aug. 20, 2021. A refugee rights group in Poland said Friday that 32 people who fled Afghanistan have been trapped for 12 days in an area between the Polish and Belarusian borders, caught up in a standoff between the two countries. (AP Photo/Michal Kosc)

WARSAW, Poland (AP) – Poland says it halted its airlift evacuations from Kabul’s international airport over safety concerns. The announcement Wednesday comes as Western nations prepare to end operations helping those fleeing the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan ahead of America’s looming withdrawal.

The decision comes as U.S. President Joe Biden declared the day before that he is sticking to his Aug. 31 deadline for completing the risky airlift from Kabul. The Taliban have wrested back control of the country nearly 20 years after being ousted in a U.S.-led invasion following the 9/11 attacks. They have insisted the airlift must end on Aug. 31. A Polish deputy foreign minister said that a group taken from Kabul and now in Uzbekistan was the last evacuated by Poland.

(Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)

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