Less than two weeks after President Joe Biden promised to stay in Afghanistan until every American gets out, the final U.S. military flight from Kabul departed with “hundreds” of Americans still left in the country.
No American civilians were on the final five military flights out of Afghanistan before Biden’s Aug. 31 deadline expired, Gen. Kenneth McKenzie said at a press conference Monday afternoon: “No American citizens came out on the last, what we call the joint tactical exfiltration, the last five jets to leave. We maintained the ability to bring them in up until immediately before departure, but we were not able to bring any Americans out.”
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“That activity ended probably about 12 hours before our exit, although we continue the outreach and would’ve been prepared to bring them on until the very last minute, but none of them made it to the airport and were able to be accommodated,” McKenzie added.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken had said there were about 300 Americans remaining in Afghanistan who wanted to leave as of Sunday morning, just over 24 hours from the departure of the last American flight from Kabul. It remains unclear at this time how many of those Americans were left in Afghanistan.
When asked what his message is for Americans citizens and Afghan allies who were left behind, McKenzie stressed that the diplomatic phase of the operation was still ongoing despite the end of the military operation.
“I believe our Department of State is going to work very hard to allow any Americans citizens that are left, and we think the citizens that were not brought out number in the low, very low hundreds, I believe we’re gonna be able to get those people out.” (RELATED: ‘Derelict In His Duty’: New York Post Editorial Board Calls On Gen. Milley To Resign)
“I think we’re also gonna negotiate very hard and very aggressively to get our other Afghan partners out. The military phase is over, but our desire to bring these people out remains as intense as it was before. The weapons have just shifted, if you will, from the military realm to the diplomatic realm.”