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Evacuations of Afghan interpreters who helped U.S. to start in July

An interpreter, C, from Baghdis Province, Afghanistan, is pictured speaking to U.S. Army personnel in January. Photo by TSgt. Photo by Kevin Wallace/U.S. Army
An interpreter, C, from Baghdis Province, Afghanistan, is pictured speaking to U.S. Army personnel in January. Photo by TSgt. Photo by Kevin Wallace/U.S. Army

July 14 (UPI) -- Afghan nationals who served the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan will be evacuated beginning at the end of July, U.S. officials have confirmed.

"Operation Allies Refuge" will attempt to evacuate an estimated 70,000 Afghans, about 18,000 of whom worked as interpreters, drivers, engineers, security guards and clerks, and about 53,000 family members, Military Times, Task & Purpose and the New York Times reported on Wednesday.

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Many of the intended evacuees live in areas under Taliban control, and it is unlikely they could be easily transported to Kabul, the Afghan capital, leaving their destination unclear.

The announcement by the unnamed official of the administration of President Joe Biden came a day after U.S. Central Command said the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan is more than 95% completed.

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While U.S. troops removed 984 C-17 loads of equipment, leaving the rest to the Afghan National Army in the withdrawal, the Taliban launched an offensive and captured a reported 80 districts of the country.

Reports from the front indicate a swift takeover without opposition of many areas of the country, which has also reportedly recovered caches of American equipment abandoned by fleeing Afghans.

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The fate of thousands of vulnerable Afghan citizens who served the U.S. military, largely as translators, and their families during the 20-year U.S. involvement in the conflict has been at stake for months.

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The evacuation effort will be led by Ambassador Tracey Jacobson, former U.S. Ambassador to Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Kosovo, as well as members of the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security, the official added.

Planned destinations for the evacuees unlikely to be revealed until after the mission is complete, according to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.

Overseas military installations, U.S. territories including Guam and allied countries willing to accept and house the affected Afghans, have been under consideration, according to The Hill.

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