The U.S. military and coalition forces evacuated more than `120,000 foreign nationals and at-risk Afghans under the newly created Taliban regime over the last couple of weeks, but they were unable to get every American who wanted to leave the country before President Joe Biden's Aug. 31 deadline arrived.
Gen. Frank McKenzie Jr., U.S. CENTCOM commander, told reporters the number of Americans still in Afghanistan who want to evacuate is in the "very low hundreds" on Monday, shortly after announcing all troops departed.
Instead of getting on a military flight, those American citizens will have to rely on the diplomatic efforts of the State Department to leave. However, it's "not likely" there will be a diplomatic presence in Afghanistan, said Secretary Antony Blinken.
There are between 100 and 200 Americans still in Afghanistan who want to leave, Blinken said on Monday, explaining the exact number is likely closer toward the lower part of that range. He also noted that the diplomatic efforts with move forward from Qatar.
"So the military phase of this operation has ended," he explained. "The diplomatic sequel to that will now begin. And I believe our Department of State is going to work very hard to allow any American citizens that are left, and we think the citizens that were not brought out number in the low, very low hundreds. I believe we’ll get those people out."
Blinken on Monday evening later said the number was likely "closer to 100."
McKenzie said there were 6,000 U.S. citizens among the more than 120,000 evacuees, which the military “believe[s] represents the vast majority of those who wanted to leave at this time.”
"I think we’re also going to negotiate very hard and very aggressively to get our other Afghan partners out," he added. "The military phase is over. But our desire to bring them out is as intense as it was before. The weapons have just shifted, if you will, from the military realm to the diplomatic realm, and the Department of State will take the lead on that."
There were no Americans on the "joint tactical ex-filtration," the final five flights, though they were prepared to if anyone arrived at the airport before they took off, McKenzie said.
"We maintained the ability to bring them in up until immediately before departure, but we were not able to bring any Americans out. That activity ended probably about 12 hours before our exit," he explained. "Although we continued the outreach and would have been prepared to bring them on until the very last minute. None of them made it to the airport and were able to be accommodated."
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Original Author: Mike Brest
Original Location: 'Hundreds' of US citizens left behind as troops leave Afghanistan