Baby Afghan girl born mid-evacuation flight headed for UK

An evacuation flight to Britain landed with an extra passenger on Saturday after the cabin crew delivered a baby girl mid-air, Turkish media reported.

The parents named her Havva, which translates to Eve in English, and she was at least the fourth baby known to have been born to Afghan mothers who went into labor on evacuation flights.

The flight originated in Afghanistan and had departed Dubai en route to Birmingham when the infant was born.

READ MORE: At least 50 Australians remain in Kabul after rescue mission ends

Meanwhile, Taliban forces sealed off Kabul's airport on Saturday to most Afghans hoping for evacuation, as the US and its allies wound down a chaotic airlift that will end their troops' two decades in Afghanistan.

Western leaders acknowledged that their withdrawal would mean leaving behind some of their citizens and many locals who helped them over the years, and they vowed to try to continue working with the Taliban to allow local allies to leave after President Joe Biden's Tuesday's deadline to withdraw from the country.

Although most of its allies had finished their evacuation flights, the US planned to keep its round-the-clock flights going until the deadline, saying 117,000 people had been evacuated since the Taliban claimed Kabul on August 15, Mr Biden warned on Saturday that commanders had told him another attack was "highly likely in the next 24-36 hours."

Britain was carrying out its final evacuation flights on Saturday, though Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised to "shift heaven and earth" to get more of those at risk from the Taliban to Britain by other means.

Britain's ambassador to Afghanistan, Laurie Bristow, said in a video from Kabul airport and posted on Twitter that it was "time to close this phase of the operation now."

"But we haven't forgotten the people who still need to leave," he said. "We'll continue to do everything we can to help them. Nor have we forgotten the brave, decent people of Afghanistan. They deserve to live in peace and security."

As the flow of planes leaving Kabul slowed, others arrived in locales around the world carrying Afghans who managed to secure places on the last evacuation flights, including in the Washington area, Philadelphia, Madrid, Birmingham, England, among others. Some were relieved and looking forward to starting their new lives far from the Taliban, but others were bitter about having to flee.

READ MORE: 'I was 50 steps from the blast:' Witness describes carnage of Kabul airport attack

In Spain, evacuee Shabeer Ahmadi, a 29-year-old journalist targeted by the Taliban, said the United States had doomed the work he and others had put into making Afghanistan a better place by allowing the insurgent group to reclaim power.

"They abandoned the new generation of Afghanistan," Ahmadi said.

Families of Afghans killed in Thursday's suicide bombing at the airport by an Islamic State group affiliate continued burying their dead — at least 169 Afghans and 13 US service members died in the attack. Among those killed was Belal Azfali, a 36-year-old contractor for a US-funded project who had gone to the airport on his own, without his wife. His remains were so disfigured that he could only be identified when someone picked up the family's repeated calls to the cellphone he had with him, relatives said.

The US on Saturday released the names of the 13 Marines, Navy and Army personnel who were killed in the bombing. They included at least one of the Marines — recently promoted Marine Sgt. Nicole Gee, 23 — who were seen in widely circulated photos cuddling Afghan infants they had temporarily rescued from the crush of the crowds outside the airport gates this month.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed on Saturday that the group's forces were holding some positions within the airport and were ready to peacefully take control of it as American forces flew out. But Pentagon spokesman John Kirby denied the claim.

The Taliban did deploy extra forces outside of the airport to prevent large crowds from gathering in the wake of Thursday's bombing . New layers of checkpoints sprang up on roads leading to the airport, some manned by uniformed Taliban fighters with Humvees and night-vision goggles captured from Afghan security forces. Areas where the crowds had gathered over the past two weeks in the hopes of fleeing the country were largely empty.

READ MORE: US drone strike kills two Islamic State members in Afghanistan

Officials said US forces were taking every precaution at the airport, as there were concerns that IS, which is far more radical than the Taliban, could strike again. In his statement saying another attack was highly likely, Biden said a drone strike he ordered that killed what military officials described as two "high-profile" IS militants believed to have been involved in planning or facilitating attacks would not be his "last" response to Thursday's suicide attack.

An Afghan who worked as a translator for the US military said he was with a group of people with permission to leave who tried to reach the airport late Friday. After passing through three checkpoints they were stopped at a fourth. An argument ensued, and the Taliban said they had been told by the Americans to only let US passport-holders through.

"I am so hopeless for my future," the man later told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because of security concerns. "If the evacuation is over, what will happen to us?"

Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, said Saturday that Afghans who had worked with American forces still were being allowed in.

READ MORE: New urgency to airlift from Kabul after blasts kill dozens

According to a State Department spokesperson, 5,400 Americans and likely more have been safely evacuated from Afghanistan since August 14, including nearly 300 Americans in the last day. Another 350 were still seeking to leave the country, and those were the only ones the department could confirm were still in Afghanistan.

As Tuesday's deadline draws near and with the Taliban controlling nearly all of the country, hundreds of protesters, including many civil servants, gathered outside a bank while countless more lined up at cash machines. They said they hadn't been paid for three to six months and were unable to withdraw cash. ATM machines were still operating, but withdrawals were limited to about $200 every 24 hours. Later Saturday, the central bank ordered commercial bank branches to open and allow customers to withdraw $200 per week, calling it a temporary measure.

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