As per reports, the Taliban is believed to be holding at least six planes carrying Americans and Afghan refugees in a hostage-like situation at an airport in Afghanistan. The information was shared on September 5 by Rep. Michael McCaul, who is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He said that the US State Department had cleared the flights, but “the Taliban will not let them leave the airport.”
New: CBS has learned multiple flights are being held on the ground at the Mazar-i-Sharif airport in Northern Afghanistan… by the Taliban. 1/— Ruffini (@EenaRuffini) September 5, 2021
He further added, “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.”
When host Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace asked him about the demands Talibs are making for the release, he said, “Well, they are not clearing airplanes to depart. They’ve sat at the airport for the last couple of days, these planes, and they’re not allowed to leave. We know the reason why is because the Taliban want something in exchange. This is really, Chris, 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.”
CBS News reported that the State Department told the members of Congress that planes are ready to evacuate American citizens and green card holders from Afghanistan to Qatar. However, the flights are currently being held at Mazar-i-Sharif by the Taliban.
A Congressional source informed CBS news that Talibs are holding the Americans hostages to “get more out of them”. There are around 600-1200 people on these flights, including 19 Americans waiting for OK from Talibs at a location outside the airport.
“The U.S. airfield in Qatar that has been standing by, ready to receive, is now beginning to pack up,” Marina LeGree, the executive director, told CBS News. “We hope visibility will add pressure to force a solution. Six days of talks are not encouraging.” 5/— Ruffini (@EenaRuffini) September 5, 2021
The reports further suggested that the State Department, in an email, have asked the members of Congress to inform people who are trying to leave Afghanistan via Mazar-i-Sharif that the US government do not have air assets in the country and the airspace is no longer under US’ control. It further added that the State Department was offering guidance and assistance to private entities at the airport “with an emphasis on safety.”
An email from the State Department to members of congress — and viewed by CBS — acknowledged that charter flights are still on the ground at the Mazar-i-Sharif airstrip and have permission to land in Doha “if and when the Taliban agrees to takeoff. 2/— Ruffini (@EenaRuffini) September 5, 2021
McCaul claimed that there are hundreds of Americans still waiting for the evacuation from Afghanistan. He further added that not even a single American had been evacuated since US troops left on August 31. He said, “I’ve been given the answer in the classified space, but it’s in the hundreds. We have hundreds of American citizens left behind enemy lines in Afghanistan as I speak. And also, very sadly, the interpreters who worked with our special forces, almost all of them were left behind and were not let in the gates at the airport at HKI [Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul] to get out.”
He added, “Obviously, we’re hopeful that, in the coming days, the Qataris will be able to resume air service out of Kabul. And, if they do, we’re obviously going to look to see if Americans can be part of those flights. We are going to find ways to get them — the ones that want to leave, to get them out of Afghanistan. This problem is going to get worse, not better, and it’s — we have left them behind. That’s the basic creed of the military.”
Ron Klain, Chief of Staff, White House, said that there are around a hundred Americans in the country and US Administration is trying to get them out. He said, “We are going to find ways to get them — the ones that want to leave — to get them out of Afghanistan. We know many of them to have family members, many of them want to stay, but the ones that want to leave, we’re going to get them out,” while talking to CNN.
He further added, “Obviously, we’re hopeful that, in the coming days, the Qataris will be able to resume air service out of Kabul. And, if they do, we’re obviously going to look to see if Americans can be part of those flights. We are going to find ways to get them — the ones that want to leave, to get them out of Afghanistan.”
President Joe Biden has faced flake from the lawmakers for completing the withdrawal of the US troops from Afghanistan though some Americans were still stuck in the war-hit country. Klain ‘hoped’ that in the coming days remaining Americans would get evacuated from Afghanistan.