US to begin evacuation flights from Afghanistan this month

Tens of thousands of Afghans could flee to the U.S. for fear of reprisal from the Taliban.
U.S. and Afghan troops battle Taliban in Kunar Province
U.S. and Afghan troops battle Taliban in Kunar Province
(John Moore / Getty Images)

The Biden administration confirmed Wednesday that starting later in July, the United States will begin holding evacuation flights for Afghans who aided the U.S. military during nearly 20 years of war. 

White House officials told the Associated Press that the move, called Operation Allies Refuge flights out of Afghanistan, will begin during the last week of July, and will first be available for special immigrant visa applicants who are already in the process of applying for U.S. residency.

"The reason that we are taking these steps is because these are courageous individuals," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Wednesday. "We want to make sure we recognize and value the role they’ve played over the last several years."

Psaki did not elaborate on how many Afghans will be evacuated, but it could number in the 10's of thousands. Several thousand Afghans who worked for the U.S. military during the war, plus their families, are already on track to get special immigrant visas.

Thousands of Afghans are already leaving the country for fear of violent reprisal from Taliban forces. The Taliban have gained ground in Afghanistan since earlier this year.