Four Americans made their way across one of Afghanistan’s land borders.
With the U.S. military and diplomatic withdrawal now complete after 20 years in Afghanistan, the Taliban has taken over the country, including the Kabul airport, the site of an often-desperate evacuation effort the past two weeks.
But even as the last American troops were flown out to meet President Joe Biden’s Aug. 31 deadline, other Americans who wanted to flee the country were left behind and the Biden administration is now focused on a “diplomatic mission” to help them leave.
When President Joe Biden sat down with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos for an exclusive one-on-one interview at the White House on Aug. 18, he said he was committed to keeping the U.S. military in Afghanistan as long as needed. “If there are American citizens left, we’re going to stay until we get them all out,” he said.Latest headlines:
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters Tuesday that “somewhere around 100” Americans remain in Afghanistan.
“We believe the number of those who have American citizenship — many of them dual nationals — who remain in Afghanistan is somewhere around 100,” Blinken said during a press conference in Qatar’s capital. “We’re in direct contact with virtually all of them.”
“For weeks now, we’ve been working very closely with Qatar, with Turkey to see to it that the Kabul airport could get up and running again to civilian air travel as soon as possible,” he continued. “We’re also working to facilitate overland passage for those who wish to depart when it comes to charters.”
Blinken admitted it’s a challenge without personnel on the ground in Afghanistan but one that “we’re determined to work through.”
“Many thousands of U.S. citizens or permanent residents or at-risk Afghans, who successfully evacuated and relocated from Kabul, have left aboard charter flights. Now, others are working to arrange more such flights,” he said. “We are working around-the-clock with NGOs, with members of congress and advocacy groups, providing any and all information and doing all we can to clear any roadblocks that they’ve identified to make sure that charter flights carrying Americans or others to whom we have a special responsibility can depart Afghanistan safely.”
U.S. officials have been engaging with the Taliban on departing flights, according to Blinken.
“They said that they will let people with travel documents freely depart,” he noted. “We will hold them to that, so will dozens of countries. The international community is watching to see if the Taliban will live up to their commitments.”
“It’s my understanding that the Taliban has not denied access to anyone holding a valid document, but they have said that those without valid documents at this point can’t leave,” he added. “Because all of these people are grouped together, that’s meant that flights had not been allowed to go. We’ve been able to identify a small number of Americans who we believe are seeking to depart from Mazar-e-Sharif with their families.”
The U.S. Department of State has facilitated the evacuation of four U.S. citizens across one of Afghanistan’s land borders — the first Americans to leave the country with help from the U.S. government since President Joe Biden ended the massive, chaotic evacuation efforts that closed the country’s longest war.
Four Americans made their way across land with Taliban knowledge, according to a senior State Department official, who told ABC News that they evacuated without Taliban interference.
The official declined to say which country they arrived in but added that they were in “good condition” and met by U.S. embassy staff from the local embassy.
While the State Department helped those four evacuate, White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said Sunday that there were approximately 100 Americans still trying to escape Afghanistan nearly a week after the last U.S. forces departed.
Among those left behind, there are several Americans in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif ready to board charter flights that are being blocked by the Taliban, according to several sources. The Taliban has not given permission to the airlines, leaving the potential passengers stuck in the city for days now.
A State Department spokesperson told ABC News on Sunday that they could not confirm the manifests of these flights because there were no U.S. personnel or assets in Afghanistan anymore, but added: “We will hold the Taliban to its pledge to let people freely depart Afghanistan.”
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