WASHINGTON: The United States is working to assist 44 Americans who want to leave Afghanistan and several others detained by Taliban authorities, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday.
Blinken was speaking before Congress where lawmakers from the rival Republican Party went on the offensive over the 2021 US withdrawal from Afghanistan and demanded the release of an internal dissent cable at the State Department.
Blinken, in response to a question, said that Taliban authorities were detaining “several Americans.” “We are working to secure their freedom. Their families have asked that we protect their identities and don´t speak publicly to their cases,” Blinken said.
The United States, despite poor relations with the Taliban rulers, has worked quietly to assist US citizens who wish to leave. Blinken said that the State Department has assisted around 975 US citizens in leaving since the Taliban takeover and that about 175 self-described Americans remain in the country, including some who arrived since the US withdrawal.
“Forty-four of them are ready to leave and we are working to effectuate their departure,” Blinken said. Representative Mike McCaul, the new Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, raised the August 26, 2021 attack outside Kabul airport where US-led forces were rushing to evacuate US citizens and Afghan allies. The attack, claimed by the Islamic State-Khorasan group, killed 13 US troops and some 170 Afghan civilians.
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