A U.S. official on Thursday, Sept. 9, said that the new Afghanistan government had allowed some foreign citizens to leave the country, days after reports they held back several flights emerged.
According to Reuters, the Taliban had allowed two hundred internationals to leave on charter flights from Kabul, some of which were Americans.
After the Aug. 31 deadline, those approved to leave Afghanistan would be among the first eligible evacuees to leave the country. The U.S. estimated that it had successfully moved 124,000 foreigners and at-risk Afghans in the rushed rescue mission before the end of August.
However, this latest move came after Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Tex.) last Sunday accused the new government of Afghanistan of holding back some flights in Mazar-i-Sharif City north of Afghanistan. An attempt which he dubbed “a hostage situation.”
Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid referred to the accusations as “propaganda,” saying that the militia did not have any interest in “ordinary Afghans,” per BBC.
McCaul said the flights carried American citizens and Afghan interpreters.
The U.S. official, who was speaking with Reuters under the condition of anonymity, said before accepting the flights in Kabul, the Taliban had been pressured by U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad to authorize the trips.
The official could not ascertain if those allowed to leave Afghanistan were the passengers kept for nearly a week in Mazar-i-Sharif airport.
On Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke in favor of the Taliban’s statements, saying that some individuals were being rejected for lack of proper documents, resulting in flights being postponed.
But Blinken also admitted later that he was not fully aware of the situation in the Middle Eastern nation as there was no U.S. personnel on the ground to assess the issues.
A Qatari official told Reuters that Kabul airport, which had been 90% ready, would resume operation gradually. It had been closed since the end of August.
On Thursday, a plane was able to take off from Kabul airport, but it was not an evacuation flight, according to the news media.
On Wednesday, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki estimated that only about 100 American citizens were left stranded in Afghanistan after the U.S. withdrawal deadline.