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As Evacuations Near, Taliban Behead Translator

US has promised to evacuate translators but won't protect Afghans trying to reach planes
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 23, 2021 1:19 PM CDT
As Evacuations Near, Taliban Behead Translator
Supporters of the Taliban carry their signature white flags last week after the Taliban said they seized the border town of Spin Boldaka.   (AP Photo/Tariq Achkzai, File)

(Newser) – Sohail Pardis was last seen trying to run a Taliban checkpoint on a desert road. The Taliban opened fire, CNN reports. When the car stopped, Pardis was dragged from it and beheaded. He had been threatened after the Taliban learned he had served as a translator for US troops for 16 months. "They were telling him you are a spy for the Americans, you are the eyes of the Americans and you are infidel," a coworker later said, "and we will kill you and your family." The Taliban said in June that it would not hurt Afghans who worked with foreign troops, but with the US withdrawing and the Taliban taking over much of the nation, those workers say they're at risk. "We can't breathe here," Pardis' coworker said. "The Taliban have no mercy on us." The Biden administration has said it will start evacuating translators next week.

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The State Department said that 4,000 more of the workers and their families have been approved for evacuation, per the New York Times. But to get on a plane, they'll first have to reach Kabul. They're on their own for that journey, which could well be dangerous. "Obviously, we don't have extensive US military presence," an American official said. "We don't have the ability to provide transportation for them." US forces won't provide security for workers outside Kabul, either, even if they've been threatened by the Taliban. Applicants in the north of Afghanistan can go to "a neighboring country" if they feel unsafe, the official said, and apply for evacuation once there. The US has received about 20,000 visa applications. Groups have asked Congress to approve more visas for people who face the same dangers from the Taliban, such as human rights advocates, women's rights activists, and journalists, per the Los Angeles Times. (Read more Afghanistan stories.)

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