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Flight with 28 Americans abandoned by Biden departs from Kabul; no firm number on how many remain

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A charter flight carrying 28 Americans left behind in Afghanistan by the Biden administration departed Kabul on Saturday roughly one month after the president said the U.S. would remain in the country until our citizens had been evacuated.

“We can confirm that a Qatar Airways charter flight departed from Kabul yesterday with 28 U.S. citizens and 7 lawful permanent residents on board,” said State Department spokesperson Ned Price in a statement.

“We are grateful to Qatari authorities, who continue to coordinate these flights with us. We will continue to help U.S. citizens and Afghans affiliated with the U.S. government to depart Afghanistan,” he added.

The spokesman went on to suggest that the evacuation was successful because the ruling Taliban government permitted Americans to leave and the flight to take off.

In an August 18 interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, President Joe Biden said he would keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan past the Aug. 31 deadline if need be in order to get all Americans out.

“We’re going to do everything in our power to get all Americans out and our allies out,” he said.

When pressed on whether Americans should understand that troops might remain in Afghanistan into the next month, Biden told Stephanopoulos that the U.S. was “going to try to get it done before.”

“If we don’t, we’ll determine at the time who’s left,” Biden said, pausing.

“And?” Stephanopoulos asked in response.

“And if there’s American citizens left, we’re going to stay until we get them all out,” the president pledged.

Earlier this month, another leading Democrat, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer of New York, falsely claimed in an interview that all Americans who wanted to leave Afghanistan had been evacuated.

“But at the moment, I’m still focused on trying to get some of those brave Afghans out,” he said. “The Americans, all of whom have wanted to come out have come out, praise God. But there are a lot of Afghans who risked their lives for our soldiers and others. Many got out, some didn’t,” he said. “And I’m still working on trying to get some of them out.”

Schumer’s false claim was made even as private organizations reported that they were waiting for clearance from the Biden State Department to get hundreds of Americans stranded at an airport in Mazar-i-Sharif out of the country.

In his statement, Price suggested in his statement that there are more Americans still in Afghanistan, saying that the Biden administration continues to engage with the Taliban to make sure that “U.S. citizens and Afghans enjoy full freedom of movement.”

U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad first noted the evacuation flight on Friday.

“Grateful that more Americans were able to leave today on a Qatar Airways flight. We welcome this development,” he wrote on Twitter.

There were between 100 and 200 Americans still left in Afghanistan after the U.S. pulled out Aug. 31. As of now, the number remains above 100, but “it is closer to 100” than 200, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

Jon Dougherty

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