Blinken: Approximately 1,500 Americans may still be in Afghanistan.

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According to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, there may be roughly 1,500 Americans who have still to be evacuated from Afghanistan, with the Biden administration’s goal to complete its withdrawal from the nation ending in less than a week.

Blinken stated in a State Department briefing that when the evacuation began, there were approximately 6,000 Americans residing in Afghanistan, and that at least 4,500 have been evacuated, with “many more” set to follow. The US began evacuating Americans and US allies from Kabul on August 14, when the Taliban controlled the capital in anticipation of the departure of US soldiers.

“Over the past 24 hours, we’ve been in direct contact with approximately 500 additional Americans and provided specific instructions on how to get to the airport safely,” Blinken said.

“For the remaining roughly 1,000 contacts that we had who may be Americans seeking to leave Afghanistan, we’re aggressively reaching out to them multiple times a day through multiple channels of communication.”

Blinken said Taliban control is complicating the effort to evacuate people. The militant group on Tuesday announced, for instance, that it wouldn’t allow Afghan citizens access to the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.

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He also cited possible violence by the Islamic State-Korasan Province, a self-proclaimed offshoot of the Islamic State, which denies affiliation. The Biden administration refers to the group as ISIS-K.

“We’re operating in a hostile environment in a city and country now controlled by the Taliban with the very real possibility of an ISIS-K attack,” Blinken said. “We’re taking every precaution but this is very high-risk. As the president said yesterday, we’re on track to complete our mission by August 31 provided the Taliban continue to cooperate and there is no disruption to this effort.

President Joe Biden on Tuesday said he has no plans to extend the Aug. 31 deadline for evacuations, despite pressure from fellow Group of Seven countries and U.S. lawmakers.

“This morning @potus should inform the Taliban that we will be in #Afghanistan until everyone we & our allies plan to evacuate is accounted for & out of the country,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., tweeted Wednesday. “If they cooperate it should be swift & orderly If they get in the way they will be killed.”

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White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that military officials presented Biden with contingency plans in case there’s a need for troops to remain beyond the deadline.

“These are incredibly serious issues and discussions happening internally,” she said.

Also Wednesday, the World Bank announced it ended financial support to Afghanistan over concerns about how the new Taliban rule and its history of suppression of women’s rights.


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