https://www.theepochtimes.com/taliban-still-blocking-americans-from-leaving-afghanistan-blinken_3987752.html

Taliban terrorists are continuing to block Americans from leaving an airport in northern Afghanistan, a top U.S. official said Wednesday.

A number of people, including Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), described a hostage situation at the airport in Mazar-i-Sharif this week. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday that the Taliban was preventing Americans from leaving, but promoted the group’s claims that the U.S. citizens being blocked lacked proper papers.

“It’s my understanding that the Taliban has not denied exit to anyone holding a valid document,” he said after meeting with officials in Qatar.

A day later, Blinken shifted in tone when speaking about the situation.

“As of now, the Taliban are not permitting the charter flights to depart,” Blinken said after meeting with his German counterpart at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

“They claim that some of the passengers do not have the required documentation. While there are limits to what we can do without personnel on the ground, without an airport with normal security procedures in place, we are working to do everything in our power to support those flights and to get them off the ground,” he added.

But Blinken, who has said that the United States lacks the ability to vet the passengers on planes leaving or attempting to leave Afghanistan, later said that “some of the groups claiming to have all of the documentations and arrangements locked down, unfortunately, don’t.”

U.S. troops withdrew from Afghanistan on Aug. 30. Since then, Americans stranded in the country have been without direct assistance from the U.S. government.

Taliban soldiers are seen in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Sept. 7, 2021. (Wali Sabawoon/AP Photo)

Private groups chartered six flights to help Americans and others escape from Mazar-i-Sharif, but those planes still have not taken off.

The State Department is working with non-governmental organizations, advocates, and lawmakers around the clock to “help coordinate their efforts and offer guidance where we can,” Blinken said, adding that the agency is trying to help with clearing the flights to land in third countries.

While Blinken portrayed the United States as assisting in the ongoing efforts to get Americans out of the Taliban-held country, others have said the State Department is actually hindering them.

Three Americans engaged in rescue missions told Fox News that the agency was obstructing the missions. Fox later cited an email obtained from Eric Montalvo, who organized some of the charter flights, that showed the State Department would not provide approval for landing the flights in third countries, nor would the United States let the planes land at U.S. military bases.

The State Department did not respond to a request for comment, but Blinken appeared to respond to the reports.

“The bottom line is this: those flights need to be able to depart. And we will work every day, to make sure that they’re able to do that. We will continue to press the Taliban to allow the charters to leave. And also critically, to open HKIA, the Hamid Karzai International Airport, to the regular-flow civilian aircraft, which can enable the safe and orderly departure of people from Afghanistan,” he said.

Zachary Stieber

Zachary Stieber

Reporter

Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news, including politics and court cases. He started at The Epoch Times as a New York City metro reporter.

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