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A group of US war veterans have launched a dangerous mission in a desperate bid to save hundreds of at-risk Afghan allies and their families.
Members of a volunteer group are part of an operation called 'Pineapple Express' and have been smuggling up to 500 Afghans and their relatives into Kabul's airport.
The team has been moving in near-pitch black darkness to help them stay undercover and, once in the airport, they have handed those rescued over to the protective custody of the US military.
The military veterans are working unofficially in tandem with the United States military and the US embassy to move people into the airport which is currently encircled by Taliban fighters.
According to reports, they are moving one person at a time, or in twos, but rarely more than a small group, to the side of Hamid Karzai International Airport that is currently being controlled by the US military.
Speaking to ABC News, Army Lt. Col. Scott Mann, a retired Green Beret commander who led the private rescue effort said: "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."
The mission began on 15 August as the group made frantic efforts to rescue a former Afghan commando who was being hunted and sent death threats by the Taliban.
Sources told ABC, he has worked alongside the US Special Forces and the elite SEAL Team Six for a dozen years, targeting Taliban leadership, and was, therefore, a high-value target for them.
According to reports, the Afghans being saved bumped into Taliban foot soldiers who beat them but never checked identity papers that could have revealed them as operators.
They all carried US visas, pending visa applications or new applications prepared by members of Task Force Pineapple and their movements were coordinated virtually.
Mann went on to add: "This Herculean effort couldn't have been done without the unofficial heroes inside the airfield who defied their orders to not help beyond the airport perimeter, by wading into sewage canals and pulling in these targeted people who were flashing pineapples on their phones."
Jason Redman, a combat-wounded former Navy SEAL and author, vented his frustration 'that our own government didn't do this', adding: "We did what we should do, as Americans."
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