The State Department said it has evacuated 500 more U.S. citizens from Afghanistan over the past 24 hours, as American officials have vowed to maintain evacuation flights following devastating explosions and suicide bombings around Kabul's international airport Thursday.
The State Department says it has made contact with about 1,000 more U.S. citizens they say are looking to evacuate from the country ahead of a hard deadline set by President BidenJoe BidenJan. 6 panel lays out criminal contempt case against Bannon Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by the American Petroleum Institute — Democrats address reports that clean energy program will be axed Two House Democrats to retire ahead of challenging midterms MORE to end military control of the airport by Tuesday.
A spokesperson for the department said more than two-thirds of this group has informed the agency that they are taking steps to leave the country.
“We believe many, if not most, of these individuals are nearly or already out of the country. And, we know that dozens more do not wish to leave Afghanistan for a range of reasons,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
The agency continues to evaluate how many Americans remain on the ground, with a spokesperson saying in a statement that roughly 500 more people have reached out to the State Department claiming to be American citizens looking for evacuation assistance, but that these numbers are not yet confirmed.
“Based on our experience, many of these will not turn out to be U.S. citizens in need of our assistance,” the spokesperson said in a statement, adding that contact is being attempted through phone, text and email.
“The new submissions speak to the realities of the situation we have been addressing over the past 12 days – the situation is dynamic and so is the data,” they added.
The White House on Thursday said it has helped relocate more than 101,300 people from Afghanistan since July — the vast majority of those evacuations taking place since Aug. 14, one day before the Taliban took control of Kabul and ousted the western-backed Afghan government.
While U.S. officials and allied countries have stressed that evacuation operations are ongoing, Pentagon officials have said that terrorist threats could occur at any moment — following deadly suicide bombing attacks and a firefight outside the airport Thursday and carried out by a branch of the terrorist group ISIS active in South Asia and Central Asia.
At least 12 American service members were killed, 15 more injured and a number of Afghan civilians killed and injured.
“It’s a hard day today,” General CENTCOM Commander Gen. Kenneth McKenzie told reporters Thursday.
“Let me be clear, we will continue to execute the mission," he added. "Our mission is to evacuate U.S. citizens, third-country nationals, special immigrant visa holders, embassy staff, and Afghans at risk. Despite the attack, we are continuing the mission.”