The United State has evacuated approximately 4,000 of its passport holders plus their families from Afghanistan, the Pentagon confirmed Tuesday.
“We expect that number to continue to grow in the coming days,” Defense Department press secretary John Kirby said in a statement.
Until Tuesday, the Biden administration remained vague on the number of Americans it had evacuated from the war-torn country, saying only that it was several thousand.
Several thousand more Americans are estimated to still be in Afghanistan, though administration officials have not released an official number.
While the State Department keeps a registry of U.S. government personnel, contractors and others who travel to dangerous locations overseas, “that is an imperfect database because not every American has to register,” Kirby told reporters earlier on Tuesday.
“It’s perfectly conceivable that you might have an American who nobody knew was in Afghanistan,” he added.
The U.S. military has ramped up evacuations in Afghanistan in the days since Kabul fell to the Taliban, with 21,700 people evacuated during the 24-hour period between early Monday and early Tuesday.
That number is up from 16,000 people evacuated the previous day.
The frantic pace is due to a looming Aug. 31 deadline to leave the country, which President BidenJoe BidenBiden: Democrats' spending plan is 'a bigger darn deal' than Obamacare Biden says he's open to altering, eliminating filibuster to advance voting rights Biden: Comment that DOJ should prosecute those who defy subpoenas 'not appropriate' MORE on Tuesday decided not to extend despite pressure from both sides of the aisle to push past it to continue the evacuations.
In a White House statement, an official wrote that Biden will accept a recommendation from Pentagon officials that more time is not necessary to evacuate American citizens and civilians from the country but has asked for contingency plans if the situation changes and more time is needed.