The top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee said Sunday the Taliban are preventing flights filled with American civilians and allies from leaving Afghanistan.
Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas said on “Fox News Sunday” the Taliban are not clearing the airplanes to depart despite approval from the State Department.
“In fact we have six airplanes at Mazar-i-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,” Mr. McCaul said.
“The Taliban wants something in exchange, this is really … turning into a hostage situation where they are not going to allow American citizens to leave until they get full recognition from the United States of America,” he said.
The United States completed its withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan last week. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said somewhere between 100 to 200 American civilians were left behind.
Mr. McCaul said since the military left the administration has removed “zero” of the remaining civilians from the country.
He also verified reports that the Taliban had been executing interpreters and their families.
“This is not a new and improved Taliban,” Mr. McCaul said. “This is the same old Taliban. They are reverting back to the same brutal practices.”
White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain insisted Sunday the Biden administration would find ways to evacuate any stranded Americans still in Afghanistan, telling CNN that U.S. officials now put the number of remaining Americans at “around 100.”
“We are going to find ways to get them — the ones that want to leave — to get them out of Afghanistan,” Mr. Klain told CNN’s “State of the Union.”
The Biden aide touted the results of the hurried airlift last month that evacuated some 124,000 people from Afghanistan even as the Taliban were consolidating power in Kabul. But the State Department acknowledged last week that “the majority” of Afghan nationals who assisted the 20-year U.S. and allied combat mission in the country were still there.
The Associated Press reported Sunday that the new Afghan leadership has allowed the resumption of domestic passenger flights by state-run Ariana Airlines to and from the capital.
A number of countries, including Qatar and Bahrain, have been making daily flights into Kabul delivering badly needed humanitarian supplies. All flights are being conducted in the daytime because the airport still lacks a working radar system.