As of Saturday morning, a total of 3,376 U.S. citizens had been airlifted out of Kabul, according to a government document obtained by Yahoo News.
The number, which was part of a government update sent Sunday to the White House and marked “For official use only,” offers a more detailed picture than has been made public so far of how many Americans have managed to leave Afghanistan since the U.S. military began evacuating people from the airport in Kabul on Aug. 14.
U.S. officials have been vague about the exact number of Americans who have been evacuated from Afghanistan, and how many more remain in the country.
“We think that, overall, we’ve been able to evacuate several thousand Americans,” John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said at a press briefing on Monday in response to multiple questions from reporters. Asked to explain why he could not provide a more specific estimate, Kirby said only: “The number is very fluid, and it changes by the hour.”
In addition to U.S. citizens and green card holders, passengers on board evacuation flights include Afghan translators and others who have worked with the U.S.-led military coalition over the last 20 years, as well as other at-risk Afghans.
U.S. Army Maj. Gen. William Taylor told reporters Monday that another 16,000 passengers had flown out of Kabul over the previous 24 hours on a combination of military and commercial charter flights, bringing the total number of people the U.S. has evacuated from Afghanistan since Aug. 14 to approximately 37,000.
“Our mission remains focused on ensuring a steady flow of evacuees out of Kabul,” Taylor said.
At the White House on Monday afternoon, national security adviser Jake Sullivan addressed questions about the number of Americans who remain in Afghanistan.
“The reason we can’t give you a precise number is because not every American who comes into Afghanistan goes and puts themselves into a database at the U.S. Embassy,” he said. “They don’t have to. Many of them choose not to.”
Sullivan said the Biden administration has used a variety of means to try to get in touch with every American it believes to be in the country. “We believe,” he said, “we have the wherewithal to get out the American citizens who want to leave Kabul.”
At a separate press conference Monday, State Department spokesman Ned Price also declined to provide specifics on the number of Americans who have been evacuated so far, saying only, “We believe there are several thousand Americans in Afghanistan who would like to leave.”
Price said employees at U.S. consular offices around the world have been placing personalized, direct phone calls to U.S. citizens who they believe are currently in Afghanistan to find out exactly where they are in the country, how many people they are with and whether they want to leave.
“Our team made several thousand calls over the weekend, and those efforts continue,” Price said.
Additional reporting by Jana Winter.
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