Secretary of State Antony Blinken defended the Biden administration’s efforts to evacuate Americans from Afghanistan during a press conference Monday after at least 100 American citizens were left behind in the country who wanted to leave.
“We made extraordinary efforts to give Americans every opportunity to depart the country, in many cases talking, and sometimes walking them to the airport,” Blinken said. “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.”
Blinken spoke just hours after Gen. Kenneth McKenzie confirmed that a number of Americans in the “low hundreds” remained in Afghanistan after the final five military flights out of Afghanistan were unable to accommodate them. According to McKenzie, some of those Americans who wanted to leave were unable to reach the airport.
“We’re trying to determine exactly how many. We’re going through manifests and calling and texting through our lists,” Blinken said.
“The protection and welfare of Americans abroad remains the State Department’s most vital and enduring mission,” he continued. “If an American in Afghanistan tells us that they want to stay for now, and then in a week, or a month, or a year they reach out and say ‘I changed my mind,’ we will help them leave.” (RELATED: Number Of ISIS Terrorists In Afghanistan ‘As High As It’s Ever Been,’ Top General Says)
Twelve days ago, President Joe Biden committed to keeping a military presence in Afghanistan until all Americans were evacuated from the country. Ultimately, he held by his self-imposed deadline, and now the mission to evacuate the remaining Americans will be a diplomatic one, with no military involvement.