Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the Taliban is not keeping Americans from leaving an airport in Afghanistan.
According to Reuters, Blinken said the White House identified a “relatively” small number of Americans who were looking to leave from Mazar-i-Sharif. He explained charter flights attempting to leave were blocked because some individuals did not have valid travel documents.
“And it’s my understanding is that the Taliban has not denied exit to anyone holding a valid document, but they have said those without valid documents, at this point, can’t leave,” Blinken said while speaking at a news conference in Qatar on Tuesday.
He added, “Because all of these people are grouped together, that’s meant that flights have not been allowed to go.”
The secretary of state reported the Taliban were still allowing Americans to leave if they had valid travel documents.
“We are not aware of anyone being held on an aircraft or any hostage like situation at Mazar-i-Sharif. So we have to work through the different requirements and that’s exactly what we are doing,” Blinken said.
The outlet noted reports have surfaced saying 1,000 individuals had been waiting days at Mazar-i-Sharif for clearance for their charter flights to take off.
The top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), told Fox News on Sunday the Taliban was not allowing several airplanes holding Americans and Afghan allies to leave, as IJR reported.
“We have six airplanes at Mazar-i-Sharif airport, six airplanes, with American citizens on them as I speak, also with these interpreters, and the Taliban is holding them hostage for demands right now,” McCaul said.
He continued, “State has cleared these flights, and the Taliban will not let them leave the airport.”
McCaul explained the reason why “is because the Taliban want something in exchange. This is really, Chris, turning into a hostage situation where they’re not gonna allow American citizens to leave until they get full recognition from the United States of America.”
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