As the 20-year Afghanistan war comes to a close, one important mission remains incomplete: evacuating all U.S. citizens who wanted to leave the Taliban-controlled country.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed on Monday evening that around 100-200 American citizens were left behind in Afghanistan after the final U.S. planes left the country ahead of the Aug. 31 troop withdrawal deadline.
“We believe there are still a small number of Americans, under 200 and likely closer to 100, who remain in Afghanistan and want to leave. We’re trying to determine exactly how many,” Blinken said.
This comes after Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., commander of U.S. Central Command, announced on Monday the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan was complete. However, he acknowledged that a number of Americans, in the “low hundreds,” remain in the region and will need to be rescued through diplomatic efforts.
McKenzie admitted that no Americans were evacuated on the final five flights out of the Kabul airport.
“We maintained the ability to bring them in up until immediately before departure, but we were not able to bring any Americans out,” McKenzie said. “None of them made it to the airport and were able to be accommodated.”
Since the day the Taliban took over Afghanistan, around 5,400 Americans have been transported out of the country, according to The Hill. As of now, the U.S. government has no plans to extend the withdrawal date to evacuate the remaining U.S. citizens who desire to leave the country.