Around 1000 US citizens, others wait for evacuation flights from Afghanistan

NEW YORK: The Taliban are preventing around 1000 people including dozens of American citizens and Afghans holding visas to the US or other countries, from leaving Afghanistan, US media reports said on Sunday.
Multiple planes are waiting for clearance for the departure from the group, The New York Times (NYT) reported and added that the holdup is caused due to ongoing negotiations between the US and Taliban.
This comes as the United States completed its withdrawal last week, after the Taliban’s swift takeover of Kabul, following an offensive that saw the rapid fall of the Afghan government forces.
US media reports say, the planes stuck in Afghanistan are not currently loaded and the passengers are being held nearby as the Taliban won’t let them inside the airport.
A Pentagon official concerned with evacuation operations said the reason the Taliban wants to prevent these people from leaving is likely because they intend to punish them for their cooperation with the US. If the Taliban really are using people as a bargaining chip, former senior Pentagon Mick Mulroy said that “is unacceptable.”
Meanwhile, senior Republican on the US House Foreign Affairs Committee Michael McCaul told Fox News that the Taliban has blocked Americans aboard six planes at Mazar-i-Sharif International Airport from leaving the country while they make demands from the US.
State has cleared these flights, and the Taliban will not let them leave the airport,” Mr. McCaul said, adding that he believed the problem was “turning into a hostage situation.” McCaul said the Taliban wanted “something in exchange” for approving takeoff of the planes and that they are seeking “full recognition from the United States of America.”
Last Friday, US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken had said that the United States is in “constant contact” with Americans remaining in Afghanistan who still wish to leave the country.
“Our new team in Doha, Qatar is running, we are in constant contact with Americans who remain in Afghanistan, and wish to leave…we’ve assigned management team for the same,” said Blinken days after troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Blinken had said that the US will “continue to maintain channels of communication with the Taliban on issues such as its commitment to let people leave Afghanistan should they choose to do so.”

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