A senior State Department official announced Monday that nearly 100 US citizens and legal permanent residents who want to evacuate to Afghanistan are still stranded in the country, awaiting a flight back to US-held territory. Huh.
The official, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity, said they were working to get people out of the war-torn country safely, but the “unpredictability” of the Taliban, who are allowed to leave, is stalling rescue operations.
“The biggest obstacle to the departure of our citizens and others from Afghanistan is the unpredictability of the Taliban, who are allowed to leave,” the official said, according to a State Department statement.
“The second major obstacle is the lack of regular commercial air service, which enables those who wish to depart to do so in a predictable manner.”
The official also said the State Department is in “regular communication” with private groups chartering their evacuation flights from the country.
“Our top priority in Afghanistan is certainly to help US citizens who now want to leave the country to do so, and ensure safe passage and freedom of movement,” the official said.
At least 85 US citizens and 79 lawful permanent residents have evacuated Afghanistan on sporadic flights with US aid as the last US troops withdrew from the country on President Joe Biden’s August 31 deadline.
Officials have struggled to estimate how many US citizens and legal permanent residents still live in Afghanistan, with numbers fluctuating.
Roughly 124,000 people were evacuated from the Afghan capital, Kabul, as US troops completely recaptured the country following the Taliban’s takeover of the capital in late August.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Tuesday defended the Biden administration’s August 31 deadline and the withdrawal of US troops – a move that has faced intense criticism from both Republicans and Democrats.
“My decision is that extending beyond the end of August will do great harm to our people and our mission,” Austin said during his first congressional testimony on America’s turbulent withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“Longer stays would have made it even more dangerous for our people and we didn’t significantly change the number of exits,” he said.
Republicans have said Biden’s decision to pull all US troops out of Afghanistan by August 31 made the United States more vulnerable to terrorism. They are also demanding more information about the suicide bombing in Kabul that killed 13 US service members in the final days of their return.
Democrats have sought to place much of the blame for the unpopular fiasco over the Trump-era deal with the Taliban, though some Democrats have also been critical of the Biden administration’s handling of the situation and the rapid collapse of the previous Afghan government.
from ntd news
This News Originally From – The Epoch Times