A State Department official on Wednesday said Americans in Kabul appear to have no problem reaching Hamid Karzai International Airport for evacuation, despite the Pentagon announcing that the military will not rescue those who don’t make it past the Taliban.
Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said that so far the Taliban appears to be keeping its promise to allow American citizens through the tight cordon it has in place around the airport.
“The Taliban made a commitment to safe passage for American citizens. I don’t know of — my colleagues may know of — an incident where an American got harassed or hustled or wasn’t able to get to the airport. I haven’t heard of that yet,” Ms. Sherman told reporters at the State Department.
She cautioned, however, that there could be stories out there of Taliban hassling Americans in Kabul.
“Given everything that’s going on, there’s probably maybe some [stories]. But so far it appears that Americans have been able to get to the airport,” she said.
The Pentagon announcement earlier in the day sparked concerns that the U.S. was abandoning Americans stuck in Kabul.
Ms. Sherman said it would be impossible to guarantee that every American would be plucked from the city.
“Kabul — I don’t know if you’ve ever been there — is an enormous city. Enormous,” she said. “It has, in fact, had more and more people come to Kabul because they thought it was the safest place to be in Afghanistan. So it is difficult under any circumstances and I don’t know of any government that would be capable of reaching out to where everybody might be, particularly those who have not signed up with us, to help them.”
She said emails were sent to every American citizen in Kabul who registered with the State Department, but Americans are not required to register.
The State Department also made repeated public statements and posted a notice on its website urging American citizens to come to the airport for evacuation.
She said that “many, many, many Americans show up when the notice went out.”
So far the track record is quite good for Americans getting down to Hamid Karzai and it appears the Taliban’s commitment to safe passage for American citizens has been solid,” said Ms. Sherman. “I don’t know every case, so I’m not making a bottom-line assessment here, but so far the experience seems to be one that has worked.”