A senior official confirmed Monday that the United States aided the departure of four U.S. citizens from Afghanistan via an overland route, the first such evacuation since the United States withdrew troops from the country last week.
A state department spokesperson said that the U.S. “facilitated the safe departure of four U.S. citizens from Afghanistan via an overland route.”
The official said the citizens were met by State Department personnel at the border of an undisclosed country. Details were not given, citing security reasons.
The evacuation was the first overland extraction confirmed by the U.S. government has since the final withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan, ending 20 years of the United States’ presence in the country.
The Taliban was aware of the evacuation and did not impede upon the safe passage of the individuals, the official said, who noted they were in good condition.
White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain on Sunday estimated that “around 100” Americans are still in Afghanistan.
“We believe it’s around 100,” Klain said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday. “We’re in touch with all of them who we’ve identified on a regular basis.”
“Obviously we’re hopeful that in the coming days the Qataris will be able to resume air service out of Kabul,” Klain continued. “And if they do, we’re obviously going to look to see if Americans can be part of those flights.”
“We are gonna find ways to get them, the ones that want to leave, to get them out of Afghanistan,” Klain pledged. “We know many of them family, many of them want to stay, but the ones that want to leave, we’re gonna get them out.”
Klain echoed President Joe Biden’s recent comments that the mission in Afghanistan has transitioned from a military mission to a diplomatic one to get U.S. citizens and Afghan allies who aided U.S. and NATO allied forces out of the country.
“I know some are coming out by land,” Klain said Sunday of Afghan allies. “We are continuing to work on efforts to get them out by air as well. We’re going to continue to move [Afghan allies] out of the country.”
According to the White House, the United States airlifted about 120,000 people out of Afghanistan, including more than 5,500 U.S. citizens.
This is a developing story. Check back later for further updates.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.