Over 100 Americans remain in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, the White House said Sept. 2.
Between 100 and 200 U.S. citizens were believed to be in the Middle Eastern nation when U.S. troops pulled out on Aug. 30. That number remains above 100, but “it is closer to 100” than 200, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters in Washington.
“We are in close touch from the State Department, from our diplomatic officials, with all of these individuals, working in close coordination with them to determine how they can leave the country, if they’ve left the country,” she said.
A chunk of the remaining Americans are school students in California. Up to 30 from two school districts were in Afghanistan as of Sept. 1, with no updates available on Sept. 2, district officials told The Epoch Times.
Without a military presence in Afghanistan, the United States is attempting to use diplomatic means to secure safe passage for the Americans stranded in the country.
It’s not clear how many made it out after U.S. troops withdrew.
President Joe Biden kept the withdrawal deadline in place, reneging on his promise to keep troops there until all Americans who wanted out were out.
The Taliban, a terrorist group, has promised to allow Americans to leave. Meanwhile, Taliban fighters stopped some Americans from passing through checkpoints even when U.S. troops were still on the ground, and beat multiple Americans in Kabul.
Some charter flights have been departing Afghanistan in recent days and may contain Americans, according to U.S. officials.
The United States is working to facilitate the charters landing safely in third countries, Ned Price, a State Department spokesman, told reporters in a separate briefing.
Price said the United States isn’t preventing the charters from taking off but stressed that it could be dangerous if they land at U.S. military bases.
“If these charters are seeking to go to a U.S. military installation, for example, we have to weigh not only the threat to those who may be on board, especially if they’re American citizens, LPRs, other Afghans to whom we have a special commitment, but also to the safety and security of State Department personnel, U.S. military personnel, Department of Homeland Security personnel, other U.S. personnel on U.S. military installations,” he said.
Price said the United States remains committed to the American citizens still in Afghanistan as well as to Afghans at risk from the Taliban.
“We will provide them tailored guidance. But that is not something we will provide to all of you. And we won’t do that for their safety. And we won’t do that because it is tailored to them. And we are working on all possible options to effect their safe departure from Afghanistan,” he said.
In yet another press conference, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby defended leaving Americans and Afghans who assisted U.S. troops behind.
“We know there are people that didn’t make it out—American citizens as well as Special Immigrant Visa applicants,” he said.
“We’re all heartbroken that we weren’t able to get every single person out. We all recognize that. And don’t think for a minute that people don’t feel it here, because we do. But it is also important to remember the extraordinary effort that was expended over the course of some 17 days to get over 124,000 people out, including 6,000 American citizens—the vast, vast majority of those we believe that were there.”