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State Department in Contact With More Than 350 Americans in Afghanistan, Far Exceeding Administration’s Earlier Estimates

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks in Washington, D.C., October 18, 2021. (Mandel Ngan/Reuters)

The U.S. State Department reportedly told congressional staff on Thursday that it is in touch with 363 American citizens in Afghanistan, including 176 Americans who want to leave the country.

The department said they have helped extricate 218 American citizens and 131 legal permanent residents from Afghanistan since August 31, when the U.S. completed its exit.

The figures, first reported by CNN’s Jennifer Hansler, disprove previous statements by the White House and State Department officials in August that claimed only 100 Americans who wanted to leave had been left behind.

 

At that time, Biden addressed the nation and declared the withdrawal a success, even as hundreds of Americans were left behind.

“The bottom line: 90 percent of Americans in Afghanistan who wanted to leave were able to leave,” Biden said on August 31. “For those remaining Americans, there is no deadline. We remain committed to get them out if they want to come out.”

He said then that over 5,500 Americans and thousands of Afghans had been evacuated from Afghanistan.

Still, with hundreds of Americans left behind and 13 American troops killed by an ISIS-K attack on the Kabul airport during evacuation efforts, many on both sides of the aisle failed to see the botched withdrawal as a success.

The updated figures come days after reports indicated the State Department’s internal watchdog had told U.S. lawmakers that it has launched an investigation into policy planning behind the suspension of operations at the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan shortly before the Taliban captured Kabul in August.

The department’s Office of the Inspector General will probe the department’s Special Immigrant Visa program for Afghanistan, its processing and resettlement of refugees for admissions into the U.S., and the emergency evacuation of U.S. citizens and Afghan nationals, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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