Japan is considering pulling out its Self-Defense Forces (SDF) from its mission to evacuate people from Afghanistan on September 1, Kyodo News reported on Monday, citing government sources.
The consideration comes after Japan assessed the present security risk around the Kabul airport and the likely risk after the departure of the US on August 31.
Apart from the explosion at the airport on August 26, an estimated five rockets fired at the airport were reportedly intercepted by the US on Monday.
According to the media, about 500 people are expected to be evacuated from Afghanistan by Japan as the August 31 deadline for the evacuation of US soldiers approaches. Japan has been looking into other options for evacuating them, including utilizing commercial planes, the agency reported.
Presently, two SDF aircraft are stationed in Islamabad in neighboring Pakistan, where several foreign governments evacuate their nationals.
Foreign troops are under pressure to wrap up evacuation by August 31, as the Taliban warned they would not extend the deadline. However, the string of suicide blasts near airport gates on August 26 has further heightened tension for countries evacuating their citizens and Afghan workers.
At least 170 people were reported dead and hundreds wounded in three attacks by IS suicide bombers.
Meanwhile, Army Maj. Gen. William Taylor said during a press briefing that the US military will continue its evacuation mission in Afghanistan as well as its other operations until the very end of the withdrawal from that country.
“We continue to have the capability to evacuate and fly out those [who want to leave] until the very end, but as you talk about the active piece, we continue to work with the Department of State on that, and continue evacuation and military operations,” Taylor said.
As of Monday, the evacuation mission has successfully moved some 122,000 people, including 5,400 Americans, out of Afghanistan.
The threat environment around the Kabul airport from which the US military is conducting its evacuation mission is active and dynamic, Defense Department spokesperson John Kirby said. The United States will maintain self-defense authorities and capabilities throughout the retrograde, he added.