UPDATED 8:22 AM PT – Tuesday, September 7, 2021
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. is still in negotiation with the Taliban about getting people out of Afghanistan on charter flights from the airport in Kabul. During a press conference in Qatar on Tuesday, Blinken said their needs to be an agreement with the group if the U.S. wants to board passengers on flights out of the area.
The official went on to say the Biden administration has been able to identify a “relatively” small number of Americans they believe are seeking to leave through the Mazar-i-Sharif International Airport with their families. Blinken also addressed concerns of a potential hostage situation at the facility.
“We’ve been assured, again, that all American citizens and Afghan citizens with valid travel documents will be allowed to leave,” he stated. “And again, we intend to hold the Taliban to that. They’ve upheld that commitment in at least one instance in the last 24-hours with a family that was able to leave through an overland route and we are not aware of anyone being held on an aircraft or any hostage like situation in Mazar-i-Sharif.”
Blinken also estimated there are around 100 U.S. citizens who want to leave Afghanistan and said the administration is in contact with them. However, more Americans may be stranded in Afghanistan in contradiction to the Biden administration’s previous estimates. According to California Rep. Darrell Issa (R), that number is likely closer to 500 and possibly double that if including family members.
If you’re in the 50th Cong District and need assistance for a loved one in Afghanistan, my office is here to help.https://t.co/V1CgozSGVk
— Rep. Darrell Issa (@repdarrellissa) August 18, 2021
This comes after the White House originally reported about 11,000 Americans were in Afghanistan prior to the U.S. pull-out. Following the evacuation, however, reports say only 6,000 U.S. citizens were removed from the country.