A top Republican lawmaker says the Taliban is refusing to let airplanes with U.S. citizens on them take off from the Mazar-i-Sharif International Airport unless certain demands are met.
During an appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said that several airplanes with U.S. citizens and Afghan partners on them have not been allowed to depart the Mazar-i-Sharif International Airport.
“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 added, “State has cleared these flights, and the Taliban will not let them leave the airport.”
McCaul also stated that “zero” Americans have been able to depart Afghanistan since the U.S. completed its withdrawal last week.
He went on to say that the planes have been stuck at the airport for “the last couple days.”
“We know 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,” McCaul added.
Watch the video below:
STUCK ON PLANES: @RepMcCaul says Americans and Afghan interpreters have been held hostage by the Taliban for days at the Mazar-i-Sharif International Airport in Afghanistan. #FoxNewsSunday pic.twitter.com/2gJfxNTIfJ
— FoxNewsSunday (@FoxNewsSunday) September 5, 2021
In a statement to The Hill, the State Department said, “Given these constraints, we also do not have a reliable means to confirm the basic details of charter flights, including who may be organizing them, the number of U.S. citizens, and other priority groups on-board, the accuracy of the rest of the manifest, and where they plan to land, among many other issues.”
“As with all Taliban commitments, we are focused on deeds, not words, but we remind the Taliban that the entire international community is focused on whether they live up to their commitments,” the statement added.
The U.S. completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan last week, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken said roughly 100 to 200 Americans were not able to be evacuated.
Biden administration officials have maintained that the U.S. has “leverage” over the Taliban to ensure that Americans can get out of Afghanistan.
National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told ABC News last week, “We have considerable leverage over the Taliban to ensure that any remaining American citizen will be able to get out.”
“We will work through every available diplomatic means with the enormous leverage we have…to make that happen,” he added.
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