White House chief of staff Ron Klain said Sunday there are “around” one hundred U.S. citizens left in Afghanistan and that “many of them want to stay,” despite reports that Taliban fighters have been carrying out violent reprisals on Americans and Afghan allies since the U.S. military completed its withdrawal last week.
Appearing on “State of the Union” with CNN’s Dana Bash, Klain said the U.S. government has been in close contact with the Americans still left in the country who have been located.
“We believe it’s around a hundred,” he said. “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 that the Qataris will resume air service out of Kabul. And if they do, we’re obviously going to look to see if Americans can be on those flights.
“We are going to find ways to get them, the ones that want to leave, to get them out of Afghanistan,” he added. “We know many of them have family members, many of them want to stay, but the ones that want to leave, we’re going to get them out.”
Bash pressed Klain on reports from the ground in Afghanistan that paint a dire picture for Americans or any Afghans who helped the U.S. military effort. A BBC report last week citing sources in Afghanistan said the Taliban was carrying out mass killings of former Afghan officials and soldiers, despite repeatedly promising widespread amnesty while U.S. troops still remained in Kabul. The last of those troops left Monday.
“The question is whether or not you’re hearing what we believe are credible reports about the Taliban systematically hunting them down, many of them, and killing them,” Bash said. “Have you heard about that and what is the administration doing about it?”
“There are all kinds of reports coming in,” Klain hedged. “We’re in close communication with our sources and our contacts in Afghanistan to try to get those SIVs out safely. I know that some are coming out by land. We’re going to continue to work on efforts to get them out by air as well. We are going to continue to work to get those SIVs out of the country.”