Some 100 US Citizens Still Remain in Afghanistan, White House Official Estimates
Some 100 American citizens still remain in Afghanistan following the U.S. military withdrawal and “many of them want to stay,” White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said on Sunday.
During an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Klain said that the U.S. government is in touch with “all” of the Americans still left in the country who have been identified “on a regular basis.”
“We believe it’s around a hundred,” Klain said. “Obviously, we’re hopeful that in the coming days that the Qataris will resume air service out of Kabul. And if they do, we’re obviously going to look to see if Americans can be on those flights.”
“We are going to find ways to get them, the ones that want to leave, to get them out of Afghanistan,” he told host Dana Bash. “We know many of them have family members, many of them want to stay. But the ones that want to leave, we’re going to get them out.”
Klain added that the Biden administration is also working to evacuate additional Afghan allied personnel with Special Immigrant Visas (SIV). The SIV program was created to protect Afghan allies who risked their lives helping U.S. troops in the country.
Earlier on Friday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the department was in “constant contact” with U.S. citizens still in Afghanistan.
“Most of the remaining American citizens are dual nationals whose home is Afghanistan and whose extended families live there. So it’s no surprise that deciding whether or not to leave the place they call home is a wrenching decision,” he said.
Klain’s remarks come nearly a week after the United States withdrew all American troops from the country to meet President Joe Biden’s self-imposed Aug. 31 deadline. Immediately after the last U.S. military plane departed Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai International Airport, the Pentagon said that “hundreds” of Americans seeking evacuation had been left in Afghanistan.
Biden earlier in August vowed to keep U.S. troops in the country until all Americans who wished to leave had been evacuated.
The U.S. military objective in Afghanistan was to get “everyone” out, including Americans and our Afghan allies and their families, Biden told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos in an interview on Aug. 18.
Meanwhile, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) told Fox News on Sunday that the Taliban terrorist group, which seized control of Kabul on Aug. 15, are stopping six airplanes carrying Americans and Afghans from departing the Mazar-i-Sharif airport in Afghanistan.
The Taliban is “holding them hostage for demands,” he said, noting that the Department of State “has cleared these flights, and the Taliban will not let them leave the airport.”
The top-ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee didn’t elaborate on the Taliban’s demands, but he said it is “turning into a hostage situation” and said the terrorist group “will not gonna allow American citizens to leave until they get full recognition from the United States of America.”