Samuel Case, FISM News
The Pentagon said on Tuesday that close to 450 American citizens are still in Afghanistan, far exceeding the amount the White House had originally claimed. Following the botched withdrawal from the region, the Biden Administration has repeatedly said that between 100 and 200 Americans were still in Afghanistan.
Under Secretary of Defense Colin Kahl told the Senate Armed Service Committee on Tuesday that the U.S. is in contact with 196 American citizens who are ready to leave Afghanistan, and another 243 that Kahl said “are not ready to depart, either because they want to stay in Afghanistan or aren’t ready.”
The Department of State is in contact with 196 American citizens who are ready to depart — and arrangements are being made for them to do so, either via air or over ground — and another 243 American citizens have been contacted and are not ready to depart, either because they want to stay in Afghanistan or aren’t ready.
Last week the State Department said that it was in contact with 363 Americans in the region, but Kahl’s testimony raises that number to 439. As of last week 234 U.S. citizens and 144 lawful permanent residents have been rescued from Afghanistan after the Aug. 31 pullout, according to State Department spokesman Ned Price on Friday.
The question of exactly how many Americans were left behind has been dogging Biden administration since the withdrawal. In late September a bipartisan group of lawmakers stormed out of a meeting with top defense officials when they could not give an exact number of Americans that remained in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile the number of green card holders and Afghan allies in the region is still up in the air. Last month Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that “several thousand green card holders” are still trapped in Afghanistan.
Kahl told the Senate Committee that it’s estimated 28,000 Special Immigrant Visa applicants are “in the pipeline,” but only “8,555 have come out with their family members.”