Kabul airport 'still under US control', Pentagon says, amid Taliban claims, embassy warning
The Pentagon said on Friday the Taliban had not taken control of any operations at Kabul airport after reports that the movement now running Afghanistan had entered the US military-controlled facility.
"They are not in charge of any of the gates, are not in charge any of the airport operations. That is still under US military control," said Pentagon spokesman John Kirby.
However, the US embassy later said Americans should avoid traveling to the Kabul airport because of security threats, and those at the Abbey, East, North or Ministry of Interior gates should leave immediately, according to a statement on its website.
For their part, two senior Taliban figures said on Friday the group's forces have taken up position in Kabul airport and are ready to take full control as early as this weekend, as soon as US forces leave.
One senior commander said the self-styled Islamic Emirate had taken over most of the airport, "just not a small part where the Americans still are."
A second official said the forces were ready to take full control, adding: "It's just a matter of some more time."
"As soon as the Americans leave, they just have to give us the signal and we will then take over," he said. "This can be done as early as this weekend."
In addition, Taliban spokesman Bilal Karimi said on Twitter: "Today, three important locations in the military part of Kabul airport were evacuated by the Americans and are under the control of the Islamic Emirate".
"Now, a very small part remains with the Americans."
These claims come ahead of the 31 August deadline for the US-led evacuation effort at the airport to be completed.