Only three rescue missions have been conducted by American soldiers since the Taliban took over the country, according to military officials. But all three took place within Kabul, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters in Washington.
“Could it be done outside Kabul, if needed? We have the capability,” he said.
“I’m not suggesting that it would be well outside of Kabul. I’m not suggesting that it would be throughout the whole countryside,” he added later. “When I said ‘outside Kabul,’ I’m talking about relatively close by. I don’t want to set the expectation that we’re going to be able to fly all over the country to pick up people.”
The reason why that distance is so small is because the focus of the mission is on protecting the Hamid Karzai International Airport, where flights are departing regularly with Afghans, Americans, and others, Kirby said.
Asked if the United States could help an American couple who is reportedly in Mazar-e-Sharife, he answered bluntly, “No.”