Striking satellite photos show massive crowds of Afghans lining up to flee Taliban

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Striking aerial photos show the huge numbers of Afghani people lining up to evacuate their country.

As the United States prepares to withdraw its troops from the nation by the end of August, satellite pictures show massive lines of people and cars at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, apparently attempting to flee the new Taliban regime.

A satellite image shows crowds and traffic at the entrance of Kabul Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, 23 August 2021 (EPA-EFE / SATELLITE IMAGE 2021 MAXAR TECHNOLOGIES)
A satellite image shows crowds and traffic at the entrance of Kabul Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, 23 August 2021 (EPA-EFE / SATELLITE IMAGE 2021 MAXAR TECHNOLOGIES)

According to the Department of Defence, the US has evacuated about 58,000 people from the country so far. Of those, 21,600 were airlifted out on Tuesday, the largest number of evacuees in a 24-hour period so far.

Even so, that doesn’t come close to the full number of people – including Afghans, Americans, and other foreigners – who wish to get out.

Watch: Thousands 'trapped' in Kabul

“Our plan is to continue this pace as aggressively as we can,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told The New York Times.

President Joe Biden has confirmed that the United States will stick to its 31 August deadline for the withdrawal of all troops from Afghanistan, despite calls from G7 allies to reconsider.

European Council president Charles Michel said after a virtual call between the powers that “several leaders” urged Mr Biden to extend the deadline in order to allow more time for evacuations. British prime minister Boris Johnson is believed to have been among them.

A satellite image shows large crowds gathered at the northern edge of Kabul Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, 23 August 2021 (EPA-EFE / SATELLITE IMAGE 2021 MAXAR TECHNOLOGIES)
A satellite image shows large crowds gathered at the northern edge of Kabul Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, 23 August 2021 (EPA-EFE / SATELLITE IMAGE 2021 MAXAR TECHNOLOGIES)

But Mr Biden affirmed that US troops will be pulled at the end of the month, leading the Labour Party, Scottish National Party and Liberal Democrats to accuse Mr Johnson of failing to change the president’s mind.

The prime minister has, meanwhile, said that he is confident the UK can pull “thousands” more people out of Afghanistan, adding that “we will go right up until the last minute that we can.”

Watch: Joe Biden defies calls to extend Afghanistan deadline amid fears for troops

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Taliban said that they will not allow Afghans to leave the country after this date. At a press conference in Kabul, Zabihullah Mujahid urged the country’s citizens to go home and resume their “calm, everyday lives,” even as thousands crowd the capital’s airport.

A satellite image shows groups of people waiting on the tarmac at Kabul Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, 23 August 2021 (EPA-EFE)
A satellite image shows groups of people waiting on the tarmac at Kabul Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, 23 August 2021 (EPA-EFE)

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