Secretary of State Antony Blinken dismissed rumors that charter flights carrying American citizens were prevented from departing Afghanistan on Sept. 7.
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) had accused the Taliban if delayed at least six flights departing from Mazar-i-Sharif airport in the Middle Eastern country’s northern region. He slammed the restriction of movement as a “hostage situation.”
However, Blinken refused to share the Republican’s sense of urgency, and quickly dismissed the speculation. The secretary of state claimed the passengers were barred from leaving due to a lack of valid travel documentation.
“It is my understanding that the Taliban has not denied exit to anyone holding a valid document but they have said those without valid documents, at this point, cannot leave,” he said according to Reuters.
Ascend Athletics estimates up to 1,000 passengers have been denied departure, and they had waited six days at the time of publication. Some individuals involved with the nongovernment organization have complained that fighters detained them.
“It is just a worrying situation overall,” founding CEO Marina LeGree said according to the British Broadcasting Corporation.
However, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid refused to take responsibility for the delay and described related media-coverage as “propaganda.”
“This is not true, our Mujahideen have nothing to do with ordinary Afghans,” he said according to the broadcaster. “This is propaganda and we reject it.”
The secretary of state defended the militant group’s integrity and promise to let Americans leave, if they produce valid paperwork before departing.
“We are not aware of anyone being held on an aircraft or any hostage like situation at Mazar-i-Sharif,” he said according to Reuters. “We have to work through the different requirements, and that is exactly what we are doing.”
The Democrat sided with the Taliban in blaming passengers for having invalid travel documents.
“Because all of these people are grouped together that has meant that flights have not been allowed to go,” he said according to the newswire agency.
Blinken later conceded he did not know the full situation in the Middle Eastern country. This was due to a lack of available U.S. personnel on the ground, making it harder to ascertain what truly happened.
“These raise real concerns,” he said according to Reuters. “We are working through each and every one in close coordination with the various initiatives and charter flights that are seeking to evacuate people. I just want to emphasize that there are a lot of issues to work through.”
Fox News in an interview with one of the organizers of the private evacuation flights found out that the Department of State was responsible for keeping those planes from departing, because bureaucrats want to vet passengers before granting clearance.