Afghanistan: Number of Americans seeking evacuation before deadline 'below 250,' official says

Hundreds of American citizens can’t get to Kabul airport: Retired Green Beret

Lt. Col. Scott Mann, a retired Green Beret commander, discusses his mission to rescue people from Afghanistan.

The State Department on Monday said there is “still a small number” of Americans who remain in Afghanistan who are seeking to be evacuated, just hours before President Biden’s Aug. 31 deadline to withdraw all U.S. troops from the country, Fox News has learned. 

A senior State Department official told Fox News on Monday that there is still a “small number” of Americans who are in Afghanistan. That official put the number of Americans at “below 250,” adding that some additional Americans have departed Afghanistan in recent hours. 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to detail the U.S. approach to evacuating those remaining Americans, an official said, adding that the administration’s “first priority are American citizens who may change their mind and decide they wish to leave.” 

The official added that the State Department is also committed to evacuating “those who worked with us,” referring to Afghan “partners.” 

The White House said Monday that since Aug. 14, when the mission began, the U.S. has evacuated and facilitated the evacuation of approximately 116,700 people. And since the end of July, the White House said the U.S. has relocated nearly 122,300 people from Afghanistan.

The president had authorized 6,000 U.S. troops to deploy to Afghanistan to assist in the evacuation mission, as the Taliban is pushing to restore the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan – the formal name of the country under Taliban rule before militants were ousted by U.S.-led forces in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. The attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, were orchestrated by al Qaeda while it was being sheltered by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The Pentagon, on Monday, did not provide the current number of U.S. troops on the ground, but maintained that the withdrawal would take place as planned. 

As for the airport in Kabul where the U.S. military has been evacuating Americans and vulnerable Afghans, the Pentagon said it would “remain operational through our final flights.” 

“What it looks like after we are gone, I would just point you to what the secretary of state said,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Monday, referring to the State Department’s statement signed by nearly 100 countries, as well as NATO and the European Union, said last week they had received “assurances” from the Taliban that people with travel documents will still be able to leave the country. 

The Taliban has said they will allow normal travel after the U.S. withdrawal is completed on Tuesday and they assume control of the airport.

“This is not a U.S. military function, and not a U.S. military responsibility once we have completed the retrograde,” Kirby said. 

Meanwhile, the White House, on Monday, said President Biden “stands by his decision to bring our men and women home from Afghanistan.” 

The deadline for all U.S. troops and diplomats to be out of Afghanistan is 3:29 p.m. EST Tuesday – 11:59 p.m. local time in Kabul, U.S. defense officials told Fox News. It will mark the first time in nearly 20 years that no U.S. troops will be on the ground in Afghanistan.

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