Pentagon Spokesman John Kirby downplayed the incident.
“They were very close to the perimeter of the airport. Very close,” he said, adding later that they had been airlifted from the Baron hotel, near the airport, by three US Chinook helicopters.
The helicopters had been deployed due to concerns for the Americans’ safety in traversing a huge crowd that had gathered outside the airport’s Abbey entry gate.
“There was a large crowd established outside the Abbey Gate, a crowd that not everybody had confidence in, in terms of their ability to walk through it, and so local commanders on the scene took the initiative and flew these helicopters out there to pick them up,” Kirby said.
Taylor said the Taliban have mostly been cooperating with US officials to allow those with US passports or visas to get to the airport and that there was “constant communication” between the US commander on the ground and the Taliban.
“We’re seeing that things that we are asking for,” such as passage to the airport, “is happening and getting better,” he said.