White House says 21 more Americans evacuated from Afghanistan
The White House said that 21 American citizens were evacuated from Afghanistan on Friday via a chartered flight and overland route, bringing the total Americans evacuated over the past two days to 31.
“Today the United States government facilitated the additional departures of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents both on a chartered Qatar Airways flight from Kabul and via overland passage to a neighboring country,” White House National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said in a statement Friday afternoon.
“The Qatar Airways flight held 19 U.S. citizens and the party traveling overland included two U.S. citizens and 11 lawful permanent residents,” Horne said.
Additionally, the State Department said late Thursday that 10 American citizens and 11 U.S. permanent residents were evacuated on a Qatar Airways charter flight that left Kabul’s international airport earlier that day.
The Biden administration has not offered specific figures on the number of U.S. citizens seeking to leave Afghanistan who are still there, but officials have said over the past several days that the number was around 100.
President Biden has come under harsh scrutiny for the execution of the U.S. exit from Afghanistan, which resulted in a hurried and chaotic effort to evacuate U.S. citizens and Afghans who assisted the U.S. military during the 20-year war from Kabul’s airport after the Taliban overran the country.
Horne said Friday that the new departures show how the administration is “giving Americans clear and safe options to leave Afghanistan from different locations.” Horne said that some U.S. citizens in Afghanistan have not taken advantage of the options offered by the administration, without going into further detail.
“We understand these are difficult decisions. We will continue to provide proven options for leaving. It is up to Americans who remain whether they choose to take them,” Horne said.
Thursday’s successful charter flight, which landed in Qatar, represented a significant development after the Taliban was not allowing aircraft to leave for several days. Earlier this week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged the Taliban to allow charter flights to depart, after lawmakers expressed concerns the Taliban was blocking Americans and Afghan allies from leaving the country.
The White House said in a statement Thursday that the Taliban has been “cooperative” in facilitating the departure of Americans and U.S. permanent residents from Afghanistan.