‘They are human beings’: Local veteran speaks out on chaos in Afghanistan

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WARRENSBURG, Mo. – The Taliban takeover of the capitol marks the end to a 20-year war in Afghanistan.

It has a local military veteran making a plea as the U.S. Embassy in Kabul is evacuated, but civilians who’ve helped the U.S. over the last two-decades remain in fear.

“They are the people who are at risk because they cannot get out of the country,” Russell Jackson said.

He lives in Warrensburg, Missouri, and served as an active-duty officer with the U.S. Army. Jackson did two tours in Iraq and one year in Afghanistan.

“The best thing that we, as the American Forces, brought to that area was a counterbalance to try to give that society some sense of stability and the opportunity to grow,” Jackson said. “It’s not rainbows and unicorns. The corruption in the Afghan society is notorious and it is true, but they are human beings just like the rest of us, and they breathe for freedom.”

He’s heartbroken to learn that the Taliban has once again taken over.

“A week ago our president didn’t even think Kabul would fall,” Jackson said. “And here we are now, on Sunday the 15th, and the Taliban are taking pictures, sitting at the desk in the presidential palace.”

The Taliban have entered the capitol of Kabul, and Afghanistan’s president has fled the country. This sent the U.S. scrambling to withdraw, just weeks before the final pullout of American and NATO troops.

“It is a bleak picture,” Jackson said.

A Taliban spokesman said the militant group is holding talks aimed at forming an “open, inclusive Islamic Government” in Afghanistan.

Jackson believes that’s propaganda.

He’s friends with two Afghan civilians living in Kabul. They’ve been in contact via email.

“I’m telling you they are fearful and in no uncertain terms, both these gentlemen believe they could be dead in the next few days,” Jackson said.

“It breaks my heart. Make no mistake the Taliban are not for peace they are never going to be our friends and they will become not just pariahs of the world, but they will first and foremost be a pariah to every Afghan citizen who is going to have to live will their brutal rule.”

Since Saturday, the U.S. has sent 2,000 troops to Afghanistan – raising the U.S. deployment to roughly 6,000. The added troops would ensure what President Biden is calling an “orderly and safe drawdown” of American and allied Personnel.

U.S. troops will also help in the evacuation of Afghans who worked with the military during the nearly two-decade war.

“We have a world duty to these people,” Jackson said, “To create some type of a corridor of safety that will permit them to leave Afghanistan and stay alive.”

The U.N. security council will hold an emergency meeting on Afghanistan Monday morning.

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