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US Veterans Escort Hundreds of Afghan Allies to Airport for Evacuation in Daring Operation

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A U.S. airman holds a baby during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 20, 2021. (Sergeant Isaiah Campbell/U.S. Marine Corps/Handout via Reuters)

With the August 31 withdrawal deadline on the horizon, thousands of Afghan collaborators remain trapped in the war-torn country, desperate to escape the Taliban. On Wednesday night, an informal group of former American Afghan war fighters collectively called “Task Force Pineapple” escorted as many as 500 Afghan allies and their families to the Kabul airport for emergency evacuation.

Collaborating with the U.S. military and embassy, the volunteer veterans brigade helped refugees navigate the treacherous journey through Taliban territory to the secure U.S. boarding zone at Hamid Karzai International Airport, members of the group told ABC News.

The covert mission, coined “Pineapple Express,” continued through the night and into Thursday, coinciding with the terrorist suicide bombings involving detonated explosive devices in Kabul that killed at least 13 U.S. service members and injured 15 others.

“Dozens of high-risk individuals, families with small children, orphans, and pregnant women, were secretly moved through the streets of Kabul throughout the night and up to just seconds before ISIS detonated a bomb into the huddled mass of Afghans seeking safety and freedom,” Army Lt. Col. Scott Mann, a retired Green Beret commander who directed the quasi-independent operation explained.

The group first came together on August 15 to rescue a former Afghan commando at risk for having served alongside American Special Forces and the elite SEAL Team Six.

What started with one Afghan collaborator expanded to include many others. The mission was orchestrated by over 50 people conducting reconnaissance, collecting intelligence, and planning virtually in an encrypted chat room to sneak vulnerable Afghans past the terrorist group’s checkpoints and controlled terrain to the airport.

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