Outside Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport on Thursday, a frenzied crowd of Afghans gathered on the Taliban-controlled side of a concrete wall topped with barbed wire to beg a group of Marines to give them freedom.
Suddenly, the mass of outstretched hands produced a baby, no older than a few months old, and raised the baby so that the soldiers could see it. As if handling a piece of baggage, a Marine grabbed the infant with one arm, and passed the infant behind him before returning to the crowd.
The scene is horrific to watch, which is precisely why A video of him was quickly transmitted around the world, sparking outrage at the random eviction. By Friday, the US military was eager to let him know that the infant had been safely reunited with a loved one.
“The child seen in the video was taken to an on-site medical treatment facility and cared for by medical professionals,” Marine Corps spokesman Major James Stinger wrote in an email. “I can confirm that the child has been reunited with their father and is safe at the airport.”
Major Stinger did not provide additional details, including how many children had been transferred to similar treatment facilities in recent days. But he sent a series of photos showing Marines playing with children at military checkpoints and providing children with water.
“This is a true example of the professionalism of the Marines on site, who make quick decisions in a dynamic situation in support of evacuations,” he said.
For two decades, Americans have realized the human cost of the war in Afghanistan primarily through Thousands of American and Afghan soldiers have been killed. But this week, photos of infants and toddlers being lifted into the arms of US commandos shed light on the loss of innocent lives, sparking emotional reactions from people around the world.
The swift resolution of a heart-wrenching and viral photo belied a rapidly unfolding chaotic landscape as many children were placed in the care of US forces in last-ditch attempts to bring them to freedom.
Seeking to restore calm in the face of what he described as the “heartbreaking” images, President Biden said Friday that about 6,000 US troops are working to restore order. He said he was committed to evacuating Afghans and Americans alike, before adding that saving American citizens would come first.
“We’ve seen distressing images of terrified people acting out of sheer desperation,” Biden said. It’s totally understandable. They are afraid. They are sad. I don’t think any of us can see these images and not feel that pain on a human level.”
Asked why he didn’t authorize the military to expand the perimeter around the airport so more people could get to flights, Mr. Biden said he didn’t want the gates open.
The army cannot expand the perimeter without the permission of the president.