Antony Blinken Cannot Confirm Number of Americans Left in Afghanistan

U.S. Department of State

While addressing the nation, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was unable to say how many Americans were left in Afghanistan after the military finished withdrawing from the country.

Blinken — after touting the completion of the operation to evacuate as many Americans and U.S. Afghan allies from Afghanistan after President Joe Biden’s botched withdrawal — was unable to say the exact number of Americans they left behind. He said, “more than 123,000 people have been safely flown out of Afghanistan,” including 6,000 American citizens.

However, when talking about the “Americans who remain in Afghanistan,” he said we “made extraordinary efforts to give Americans every opportunity to depart the country, in many cases, talking and sometimes walking them into the airport.”

“We believe there are still a small number of Americans, under 200 and likely closer to 100, who remain in Afghanistan and want to leave,” the secretary said, trying to explain the number of Americans they believe are still stranded in the county.

Afghan refugees, fleeing the Afghan capital Kabul, exit an US air force plane upon their arrival at Pristina International airport near Pristina on August 29, 2021. - Kosovo has offered to take in temporarily thousands of Afghan refugees evacuated by US forces from Kabul until their asylum claims are processed. (Photo by Armend NIMANI / AFP) (Photo by ARMEND NIMANI/AFP via Getty Images)

Afghan refugees, fleeing the Afghan capital Kabul, exit an US air force plane upon their arrival at Pristina International airport near Pristina on August 29, 2021. – Kosovo has offered to take in temporarily thousands of Afghan refugees evacuated by US forces from Kabul until their asylum claims are processed. (Photo by Armend NIMANI / AFP) (Photo by ARMEND NIMANI/AFP via Getty Images)

“We’re trying to determine exactly how many. We’re going through manifests and calling and texting through our lists and will have more details to share as soon as possible,” he added.

Blinken also claimed that many of the American citizens who are now left are torn between leaving and staying, calling it a “painful choice.” He claims many are dual citizens with “deep roots and extended families in Afghanistan who resided there for many years.”

Furthermore, he explained that the administration’s commitment to those left in Afghanistan and Americans in other places of the world continues, claiming that “if an American in Afghanistan tells us they want to stay for now and in a week or month or year, they reach out and say I’ve changed my mind, we will help them leave.”

Lastly, Blinken said the U.S. will continue to try to “evacuate and relocate” more of the Afghans who worked alongside Americans and are at risk. “We’ve gotten many out, but many are still there. We will keep working to help them. Our commitment to them has no deadline.”

TOPSHOT - Taliban fighters patrol along a street in Kabul on August 29, 2021, as suicide bomb threats hung over the final phase of the US military's airlift operation from Kabul, with President Joe Biden warning another attack was highly likely before the evacuations end. (Photo by Aamir QURESHI / AFP) (Photo by AAMIR QURESHI/AFP via Getty Images)

Taliban fighters patrol along a street in Kabul on August 29, 2021, as suicide bomb threats hung over the final phase of the US military’s airlift operation from Kabul, with President Joe Biden warning another attack was highly likely before the evacuations end. (Photo by Aamir QURESHI / AFP) (Photo by AAMIR QURESHI/AFP via Getty Images)

Curtis Houck, managing editor at NewsBusters posted the clip of the speech on Twitter:

During a Pentagon briefing with spokesman John Kirby and Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, McKenzie acknowledged people remaining in the country still need to be evacuated.

“We did not get everybody out that we wanted to get out,” he said, describing the number as in “the very low hundreds.”

Follow Jacob Bliss on Twitter @jacobmbliss.

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