Blinken Confirms U.S. Left Hundreds of Americans Behind in Afghanistan

Antony Blinken Afghanistan 1
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivers remarks following talks on the situation in Afghanistan, at the State Department in Washington, D,C., August 30, 2021. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken vowed that the U.S. will continue to help Americans and Afghan allies leave Afghanistan following the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country, in a speech at the White House on Monday evening.

Blinken said the U.S. has suspended its diplomatic presence in Afghanistan and transferred that presence to Doha, Qatar. Diplomats stationed in Doha will “coordinate engagement and messaging to the Taliban” moving forward.

The last U.S. troops stationed in Afghanistan flew out of Hamid Karzai International Airport on Monday, ending a two-decade war. U.S. Central Command head, General Frank McKenzie, admitted at a press conference that “we did not get everybody out that we wanted to get out,” referring to Americans and Afghans stranded in the country.

We will continue our relentless efforts to help Americans, foreign nationals, and Afghans, leave Afghanistan if they choose,” Blinken said, adding that the U.S. “made extraordinary efforts to give Americans every opportunity to depart the country.”

Around 6,000 “self-identified” Americans have left Afghanistan, Blinken said, with “under 200” Americans “who remain in Afghanistan and want to leave. We’re trying to determine exactly how many.” 

Blinken did not estimate how many U.S. green-card holders or Afghan allies remained in the country. 

“We’ve worked intensely to evacuate and relocate Afghans who worked alongside us and are in particular risk of reprisal,” Blinken said. “We’ve gotten many out, but many are still there. We will keep working to help them.”

Americans and Afghans faced significant hurdles reaching the airport, including Taliban checkpoints and the threat of terror attacks. An attack by ISIS-K, the ISIS affiliate in Central Asia, killed 13 American soldiers and close to 200 Afghans at the airport on Thursday.

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