The first Afghans to be airlifted out of Afghanistan as the United States completes its withdrawal from the country after nearly two decades of war will initially be housed at an Army base south of Washington.Officials at the State Department and the Pentagon on Monday said as many as 2,500 Afghans will be brought to Fort Lee in Virginia, about 216 kilometers south of the U.S. capital, when flights begin later this month.The group, which includes about 700 interpreters and others who aided U.S. forces, as well as their families, are then expected to spend several days at the base before they are resettled elsewhere in the U.S.State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters the Afghans are all from a pool of Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants “who are closest to completing special immigrant processing.”“These are brave Afghans and their families, as we have said, whose service to the United States has been certified by the embassy in Kabul, and who have completed thorough SIV security vetting processes,” he said.These Afghans “have completed thorough SIV security vetting processes. They will be provided temporary housing and services as they complete the final steps in the Special Immigrant process, we expect to begin the first relocation flights before the end of July,” said the spox. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, speaks at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, May 3, 2019, in Kittery, Maine.U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat who is behind legislation aimed at increasing the number of special immigrant visas for Afghans who aided U.S. forces, welcomed the announcement of the 2,500 who will soon be headed to Fort Lee.“I’m relieved that the Biden administration is taking this step to protect our partners,” she said in a statement late Monday.“Upholding our promise to our allies isn’t just the right thing to do — it sends a clear message around the world that the United States is good for its word,” Shaheen added. “We cannot risk the security implications if we fall short on our promise to our partners.”Fort Lee, the initial destination for the first Afghan SIV applicants to come to the U.S., is the U.S. Army’s third-largest training site and home to about 27,000 military members and their families.Steve Herman contributed to this report. 

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