WASHINGTON — Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said that American citizens and Afghan allies are stuck at Mazar-i-Sharif airport in Afghanistan as the Taliban are not clearing six airplanes to depart, a U.S. lawmaker said.

“(The Taliban) is not clearing the airplanes to depart,” said McCaul.

“They have sat at the airport for the last couple of days. We know the reason why is that the Taliban want something in exchange. This is really turning into a hostage situation where they’re not going to allow American citizens to leave until they get full recognition from the United States of America.”

McCaul said he had received information “in the classified space” that the number of Americans in Afghanistan is “in the hundreds.”

“We have six airplanes at Mazar Sharif airport, six airplanes with American citizens on them as I speak, also with these interpreters, and the Taliban is holding them hostage for demands right now,” said the Texas Republican.

However, the U.S. State Department said it did not have any information on this specific situation. It confirmed the U.S. no longer has resources in Afghanistan.

A White House spokesperson said the administration continues “to work around the clock to ensure safe passage out for any Americans who are seeking to leave Afghanistan.”

Roughly 124,000 people were evacuated in August 2021 from Kabul in a massive U.S.-led airlift of the U.S. and other foreign citizens and vulnerable Afghans as the Taliban took control there.

The plight of the passengers hoping to leave the country from the airport in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif mirrors that of thousands of people who were unable to board planes from Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan after Taliban militants took the city on the eve of the U.S. troop withdrawal.

The United States has thanked several countries, including India, for their “generous offers” to help in various ways regarding the relocation efforts for at-risk Afghans during critical evacuation operations from Afghanistan.

The United States forces left Afghanistan on the morning of Aug. 31, marking the end of a chaotic and messy exit from America’s longest war.

“With support from partners and allies, the United States put together a global network— consisting of more than two dozen countries spanning four continents — with total temporary transit capacity of 65,000 people on a rolling basis, including up to 2,000 spaces to accommodate persons that need longer-term processing,” Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State on behalf of the state department said.

The state department said the U.S. is grateful to the global network of countries that have provided critical assistance for our evacuation efforts.

“Partners and allies — including Bahrain, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Georgia, Hungary, Italy, Kosovo, Kuwait, Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Qatar, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom — have helped transit Americans or others to safety,” it said.

“Other countries have made generous offers to help in a variety of ways regarding the relocation efforts for at-risk Afghans,” the statement further said. “These countries include Albania, Bahrain, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Ecuador, Guyana, India, Kuwait, Mexico, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Rwanda, Singapore, Uganda, and the United Arab Emirates.”

The state department assured that the U.S. is working around the clock to ensure U.S. citizens, at-risk Afghan civilians, and others can reach their ultimate destinations safely and efficiently.

(With inputs from ANI)

Edited by Saptak Datta and Ritaban Misra



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