With the U.S. military and diplomatic withdrawal now complete after 20 years in Afghanistan, the Taliban has taken over the country, including the Kabul airport, the site of an often-desperate evacuation effort in past weeks.
ABC News Special
This special dives into the chaotic events of recent weeks, from the U.S. moving personnel out of its embassy to the desperate Afghans who clung to planes in hopes of fleeing the country.
But even as the last American troops were flown out to meet President Joe Biden’s Aug. 31 deadline, other Americans who wanted to flee the country were left behind. The Biden administration is now focused on a “diplomatic mission” to help them leave but some hoping to evacuate are still stuck in the country. Meanwhile, the Taliban has announced its new “caretaker” government that includes men with U.S. bounties on their heads — and no women.
At least 236 passengers were on an evacuation flight from Kabul to Qatar this weekend, which officials said is the largest passenger evacuation since the Aug. 31 U.S. withdrawal deadline.
Evacuees included U.S., U.K., German, Irish, French nationals and more, according to a senior Qatari government official.
“The State of Qatar is pleased to announce that following extensive consultation with parties on the ground and international partners, just moments ago the fourth passenger flight departed Kabul International Airport to Doha’s Hamad International Airport (HIA),” the official said in a statement Sunday.
“The State of Qatar will continue its collaboration with international partners on efforts that ensure freedom of movement in Afghanistan, while working with various parties on the ground towards more general progress in the country moving forward,” the official said.
-ABC News’ Sohel Uddin
A drone strike near the Kabul airport last month that killed 10 Afghans was “a mistake,” U.S. Central Command Gen. Frank McKenzie admitted at a briefing Friday.
The U.S. believed it was targeting a terrorist in the Aug. 29 strike, but McKenzie said it is unlikely that those who died or the targeted vehicle were associated with ISIS-K “or were a direct threat to U.S. forces.”
As many as 10 civilians, including up to seven children, died in the strike, according to McKenzie.
“I offer my profound condolences to the family and friends of those who were killed,” the general said.
One more U.S. citizen and two more lawful permanent residents evacuated Afghanistan via overland routes Tuesday, according to State Dept. spokesperson Ned Price.
The State Department provided guidance to them, engaged the Taliban on their safe passage, and had consular officials on the other side of the border to greet them, he said.
Price declined to say which country they transited to, but said these overland evacuations have taken different routes.
To date, at least 36 U.S. citizens and 24 Green Card holders have been evacuated since the U.S. military completed its withdrawal — including seven U.S. citizens and 13 Green Card holders via overland routes in total.
Yet, the agency still said the number of American citizens who want to leave is still 100. Despite growing skepticism about that number, Price — just as Blinken did Tuesday and Monday — said the number is “dynamic” because the situation is so fluid, with some Americans changing their minds about seeking U.S. help, especially as they see that “we are living up to our commitment … in safe and effective ways.”
He also implied that the lists of other Americans that aid groups, lawmakers and others have often don’t end up including folks who aren’t U.S. citizens, but the “distant relatives” and friends of Americans who come asking for help.
The U.S. continues to talk to the Taliban, but those discussions are largely about Americans’ safe passage, according to Price, calling them “pragmatic,” “technical” and “focused on practical issues.”
There’s still been no evacuations from Mazar-e-Sharif, the northern city where chartered planes had been organized but barred from taking off. Price said they’re not aware of any flights departing there, but again admitted the limits of U.S. power here saying the U.S. had pulled “every lever” available to get these flights out.
Seven Marines injured in the Aug. 26 terror attack at the airport in Kabul remain under care at Walter Reed, according to a Marine Corps statement released Tuesday night.
Two are listed in critical, but stable condition, the statement said, and five are in serious, but stable condition.
The service will not confirm the names of the wounded Marines or indicate which units they serve in, “in an effort to protect their privacy,” said Capt. Johnny Henderson, Marine Corps spokesperson.