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Blinken says 300 US citizens left to be evacuated from Afghanistan

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A handout picture released by the British Ministry of Defence (MOD) shows military personnel departing from a RAF C-17 aircraft after landing at RAF Brize Norton, west of London on August 29, 2021, as the troops and diplomatic staff return from assisting with the evacuation of people from Kabul airport in Afghanistan. Britain’s last plane carrying only civilian evacuees has taken off from Kabul, the defence ministry said August 28, leaving hundreds of Afghans eligible for resettlement behind. The government is winding up its operation to airlift civilians, diplomats and troops out of Afghanistan ahead of the August 31 deadline for US troop withdrawal. Samantha HOLDEN / MOD / AFP

Only 300 American citizens still in Afghanistan are seeking to leave the country, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday, just days ahead of the US deadline for evacuations.

“We have about 300 American citizens left, who have indicated to us that they want to leave. We are very actively working to help them get to the airport, get on a plane and get out of Afghanistan,” he told ABC.

Nearly 5,500 Americans have been evacuated as part of a mammoth operation that has flown more than 114,000 people from the country since the Taliban takeover.

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Some Americans, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told Fox News Sunday, had chosen to stay beyond the August 31 deadline set to complete the evacuation, but he said “they are not going to be stuck in Afghanistan.”

The US has “a mechanism to get them out,” Sullivan added, without elaborating.

Seeking to reassure Americans and their remaining allies in Afghanistan about the deeply uncertain future, he said “The Taliban have made commitments to us…and we have leverage to hold them to those commitments.”

Sullivan did not elaborate about the leverage, but the United States and other countries have frozen billions of dollars of Afghan government assets.

US officials have warned about continuing danger around Kabul international airport and urged people to stay away.

An attack there Thursday claimed dozens of lives, including those of 13 American service members. US President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, were at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Sunday to meet the plane returning their remains and to offer condolences to family members.

But officials warned that the final winding down of the United States’ 20-year presence in Afghanistan could hold some of the highest risks.

“This is the most dangerous time in an already extraordinarily dangerous mission,” Blinken said.

Sullivan told Fox News Sunday that “another attack could occur at any time.”

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