Six planes scheduled to transport Americans and Afghans remain at an airport in northern Afghanistan, where the Taliban are preventing their departure in exchange for obtaining their “demands,” Republican Congressman Michael McCaul denounced Sunday.
“The Taliban are holding them hostage for demands right now,” Rep. McCaul told Fox News.
“This is really turning into a hostage situation where they’re not going to allow American citizens leave until they get full recognition from the United States of America,” added McCaul, the top Republican on the Lower House Foreign Affairs Committee.
According to the legislator, the planes have been at the airport in the city of Mazar-i-Sharif, in the north of that country, “for the last few days”.
McCaul assured that, despite the fact that these flights have been authorized by the State Department, “the Taliban will not let them leave the airport”.
He indicated that the aircraft would be carrying American citizens and Afghan interpreters who remain in the country after the United States completed the evacuation and withdrawal of its troops on August 30.
Unable to leave
White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said in a Sunday interview with CNN that about 100 U.S. citizens remain in Afghanistan.
Klain noted that they remain “in contact” with the Americans they have identified and that they hope that in the “next few days” the Qataris will be able to fully resume flights from Kabul, the Afghan capital.
“If they do, obviously we’re going to see if the Americans can be part of those flights,” he added.
He also reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to help evacuate Afghan applicants for special immigration visas (SIVs), reserved for translators and interpreters who worked with the United States.