A viral video shows a harrowing scene of Marines pulling an infant over a barbed-wire barrier separating U.S. troops defending Hamid Karzai International Airport from the Taliban controlled Kabul, Afghanistan.
It is just one scene of many that have come out the past week showing how desperate tens of thousands of Afghans are to escape an Afghanistan now under Taliban rule.
The Marines seen carrying the baby were with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Marine spokesman Maj. Jim Stenger told Marine Corps Times Friday. They were the first U.S. troops on the ground, sent in to secure the airport to help evacuate U.S. citizens and at-risk Afghans from the country.
“The baby seen in the video was taken to a medical treatment facility on site and cared for by medical professionals,” Stenger said in an email. “I can confirm the baby was reunited with their father and is safe at the airport. This is a true example of the professionalism of the Marines on site, who are making quick decisions in a dynamic situation in support of evacuation operations.”
The roughly 1,200 Marines in Kabul, Afghanistan, with the 24th MEU came from 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, and Combat Logistics Battalion 24, both located in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
Marines from 1/8 were involved in a shooting incident on Monday when Afghan locals took what were described as potshots, or careless gunshots, at Marines setting up the defensive, Brig. Gen. Peter D. Huntley, director of the operations division for Marine plans, policies and operations, told a group of reporters at the Pentagon on Thursday.
One Marine was wounded in the leg, but received medical attention and quickly returned to duty, the general said.
Two armed Afghans were killed in the attack, but reports on the ground indicate it was not “Taliban coordinated,” Huntley said.
Though the job of defending the airport has since been handed over to the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, some Marines are still manning the defenses while others are aiding the State Department with processing evacuees through the gates.
Stenger did not say whether the baby was going to be evacuated from the country.
Many Afghan interpreters and even some U.S. citizens have reported difficulty reaching the secured airfield, which is cut of from the rest of the city by Taliban checkpoints.
The U.S. military has so far been reluctant to send out rescue parties to gather U.S. citizens or Afghans with approved special immigrant visas who are trapped in their homes hiding from the Taliban.
With nearly 2 million views on the originally tweeted video, the scene of Marines carrying a baby to safety has been one of the most viewed moments of desperation to come out of Afghanistan, but the scene is not unique.
Other social media videos that have not been confirmed by the U.S. military also show Marines bringing Afghan women and children to safety over the fence.