Afghan passengers are pictured in front of a Qatar Airways plane at Kabul International Airport, in Kabul, Afghanistan on September 19, 2021.
Qatar Ministry of Foreign Affairs | via Reuters
WASHINGTON – A commercial plane carrying 21 Americans and 48 legal U.S. residents left Kabul in Afghanistan over the weekend, the State Department confirmed Monday.
In all, at least 85 U.S. citizens and 79 legal residents have left Afghanistan since the United States completed a massive humanitarian evacuation and completed the withdrawal of its troops in August, according to State Department figures.
“We are grateful to the Qatari authorities, who continue to coordinate these flights with the Taliban,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Ned Price said on Monday. The Biden administration is still working to help U.S. citizens, legal residents and vulnerable Afghans leave, Price added.
The Taliban’s rapid takeover of Afghanistan last month led to a chaotic effort by the United States and its allies to get their citizens and vulnerable Afghans out of the country. As of August 31, about 125,000 people, including about 6,000 U.S. citizens and their families, had been evacuated from the country.
However, not everyone could handle it in time. Foreign Minister Antony Blinken told lawmakers last week that about 100 U.S. citizens are still seeking evacuation from Afghanistan.
Blinken blamed the Trump administration for the United States’ chaotic exit from its longest war, saying, “We have inherited a deadline; we have not inherited a plan.”
“There had not been a single interview in the special immigrant visa program in Kabul for nine months, back to March 2020. The program was basically in booths,” Blinken said on September 13.
“We made the right decision by ending the longest war in the United States, we made the right decision by not sending a third generation of Americans to fight and die in Afghanistan,” Blinken said.
President Joe Biden has defended his decision to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan despite the Taliban’s takeover. Biden was forced to order the temporary deployment of thousands of U.S. troops to Kabul to help with evacuation efforts last month.
Thirteen U.S. service members and dozens of Afghans died in an ISIS-K suicide bombing at Kabul airport during the evacuation. A subsequent US drone strike in Kabul killed as many as 10 civilians in what the Pentagon has described as a tragic mistake.