Secretary of State Antony Blinken admitted that at least 30 Americans were not able to access flights out of Afghanistan despite being offered plane tickets.
Blinken testified Monday to the House Foreign Affairs Committee that more than 100 American citizens had told the State Department they wanted to leave Afghanistan. He added that the State Department “can not know” how many “how many American citizens are in any country… precisely at any given moment” because “Americans are not required to register when they go to a foreign country, or if they reside there.”
“We offered seats on the planes that got out last week to about 60” Americans remaining in Afghanistan past the U.S.’s Aug. 31 withdrawal deadline, he said. “Thirty came forward and used those seats.”
Blinken did not say why the other 30 Americans who were offered tickets did not board the flights leaving the country, or why 40 Americans were not offered tickets. The Washington Post previously reported that 30 Americans were among 200 people cleared by the Taliban to fly out of Kabul on Sept. 9.
Blinken claimed that Americans remaining in Afghanistan were “making decisions hour by hour, if not day by day, about whether to leave or not.”
“What also happens is as people identify themselves as American citizens in Afghanistan who wish to leave, they get added to the picture. We get information from you, other groups, about people reporting to be Americans in Afghanistan. We immediately seek to contact them, to engage with them, to find out if they are in Afghanistan. If they want to leave this is a picture that will continue to change over time. That is the rough population we are working with,” he continued.
Blinken has claimed on numerous occasions that roughly 100 Americans remain in Afghanistan, despite reports of evacuations. (RELATED: What Will Happen To The Americans Still Left In Afghanistan?)
The Daily Caller reported in August that close to 12,000 Americans were in Afghanistan when Kabul fell to the Taliban.
The Taliban prevented six flights carrying Americans from taking off from Mazar-i-Sharif airport in northern Afghanistan for “a couple of days,” Republican Texas Rep. Michael McCaul, the ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said on Sept. 5. He described it as a “hostage situation.”
Blinken claimed that the Taliban held those flights up because some travelers lacked “valid documents.”