Another 650 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan overnight as part of Australia’s rescue operation, as the Taliban threatens the window to get people out is closing.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said four RAAF flights and one New Zealand Air Force flight managed to land at Kabul Airport and rescue hundreds more people in recent hours.
Mr Morrison said it was the biggest night of Australia’s operation so far.
“The people who are doing this job on the ground … they are real heroes, compassionate heroes,” Mr Morrison told Channel 9.
“They are going through what is an extraordinarily tense time and they are getting people out.”
PM warns every rescue flight may be the last
Mr Morrison said the situation at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport remained highly unpredictable.
He said knowing “the form” of the Taliban, the country was operating under the assumption every flight it could get into and out of Kabul airport may be the last.
“We’ve been going like we won’t be able to get another flight in the next day, so we’ve been trying to make every flight as successful as possible,” Mr Morrison said.
“We’ll keep doing that for as long as we can. If that deadline is able to be pushed out, we’ve made it clear to the United States we support that.”
The Taliban have warned the United States that holding Kabul airport beyond the end of August would be a “violation” of their agreement struck under former president Donald Trump.
A spokesperson for the Taliban told international media August 31 was a “red line” for withdrawal that should not be crossed.
The White House has responded that US President Joe Biden would decide what date American forces withdrew.
More than 1,600 people, including Australians, Afghan nationals and other foreign citizens, have been evacuated by Australia and New Zealand in the past week.