WASHINGTON — The United States has evacuated about 6,000 American citizens and a total of more than 124,000 civilians from Afghanistan, said Lloyd J. Austin III, US Defense Secretary, on Sept. 1.

“The US evacuated some 6,000 American citizens and a total of more than 124,000 civilians,” he said. “And we did it all in the midst of a pandemic and in the face of grave and growing threats.”

“I want to thank all those who labored so hard and under such difficult circumstances over the past few weeks. This includes dozens of our diplomats, to move some 6,000 of our fellow citizens out of harm’s way and evacuate more than 123,000 people from Afghanistan—the vast majority of whom are Afghans, friends, and allies who fought by our side and fought for our shared values.”

Austin said that he is proud of how military members have welcomed Afghan refugees to the United States.

“Some of those brave Afghans will be coming to make new lives with their families in America, after careful screening & security vetting run by our interagency partners,” he said.

“I’m proud of the way that our military communities have welcomed them.”

The US has concluded the most extensive air evacuation of civilians in American history, said Austin.

“We have just concluded the largest air evacuation of civilians in American history,” he said.

“It was heroic. And I hope that all Americans will unite to thank our service members for their courage and compassion. For my part, I am proud of the part that we played in this war. I am proud of the men and women who led me. I am proud of those with whom I served and led. And I am proud of the intrepid, resilient families who made what we did possible.”

Austin honored those who died in the war in Afghanistan.

“Our forces risked their own lives to save the lives of others, and 13 of our very best, paid the ultimate price,” he said.

“I want to end with a word to the force and their families. Thank you to all those who served in this war. Because you are the greatest asset that we have. You. The extraordinary men and women who volunteer to keep us all safe and your families.”

He said that he will be visiting the Gulf next week.

“I’ll be traveling to the Gulf next week to thank our partners there who’ve done so much to help save and shelter Afghan civilians,” said Austin.

The US Department of Defense also informed through a tweet that they are welcoming Afghan evacuees at Fort Bliss, Texas. Up to 50,000 Afghan evacuees will receive transportation, temporary housing, medical screening, and general support during their transition.

(With inputs from ANI)

Edited by Saptak Datta and Ritaban Misra

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