A day after chaotic situation at Kabul airport, Australia announced on Tuesday that it postponed the evacuation of its nationals, troops, and some Afghans who have worked with the Australian Defense Force (ADF).
"The ADF is working to extract Australians and their Afghan colleagues in the coming days. Australian forces will work with US counterparts and support multinational efforts to ensure those wishing to leave Afghanistan can do so safely,” Defense Minister Peter Dutton tweeted.
He added that they are watching the unfolding events in Afghanistan with shock and sadness.
The Taliban have rapidly taken Afghanistan in a lightning offensive that blindsided Western powers as government forces melted away.
The capital Kabul fell to the group on Sunday after the Afghan government collapsed amid the Taliban's dizzying advances that prompted President Ashraf Ghani to leave the country.
There were scenes of panic and chaos at Kabul airport on Monday as desperate residents tried to flee the war-torn country. Deaths were reported as some clung on to planes flying out of the capital.
"This is a distressing time for the Afghan people, and for our men and women in uniform," Dutton said.
According to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, as many as 430 Afghans and their families who worked with Australian forces have already been resettled in Australia since April, with more being transferred.
Earlier in an interview with Sky News, the Australian defense minister said circumstances are incredibly difficult and tragic on the ground.
"From Australia’s perspective, we don’t have the capacity obviously to secure the airport, but the Americans, as I understand, have that operation underway at the moment," he said. "It may take some time, but for Australia, we won’t be landing aircraft into the airport until it’s safe to do so."
President Joe Biden has defended his decision to withdraw all American forces from Afghanistan, saying the US gave Afghans "every chance to determine their own future."
*Writing by Islamuddin Sajid