(USA Features) A noted California Republican says his office is working diligently to evacuate a pair of elderly American citizens from Afghanistan and that it appears as though there are about 500 more U.S. citizens stranded in the country, a number that disputes estimates put out by the Biden administration.
“Unless we continue and get the rest of our American citizens, and all those otherwise eligible out, we won’t have done our job,” Rep. Darrell Issa told The Associated Press, referencing the figure.
If the number of family members of U.S. citizens is included, Issa said that the number of those left behind by the Biden administration could be as high as 1,000.
Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., told the AP that the administration should be providing Americans with the full number of people who were not evacuated by the Aug. 31 deadline after President Joe Biden and members of his White House said all Americans would be taken out.
“The problem is, it doesn’t include families,” he said. “They’re lowballing the numbers.”
White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said Sunday in an interview with CNN that he believes about 100 Americans are trapped in the country. Last week, Biden put the number at between 100-200 after the last U.S. flight departed the country, which has since been taken over by the Taliban, after a 20-year conflict.
“We believe it’s around a hundred. We’re in touch with all of them who we’ve identified on a regular basis,” Klain told the network.
He added that some Americans and Afghani nationals continue to leave the country “by land.”
Klain went on to say that the administration is “continuing to work on efforts to get them out by air as well. We’re going to continue to move those [Special Immigrant Visa holders] out of the country.”
At the same time, some rescue organizations led by veterans told the AP they believe Biden’s estimate that no more than a couple of hundred Americans were left behind is a low figure.
Mike Jason, the head of Allied Airlift 21, a private rescue organization told the outlet that he thinks the number of Americans stranded by the Biden administration is much higher.
He also said that it’s a misleading figure because it does not include the family members of Americans left behind.
And Alex Plitsas, a veteran of the Iraq war who is with another rescue group known as Digital Dunkirk, said that in one day alone he was contacted by six Americans stranded in Afghanistan and that none of them were registered with the U.S. Embassy.
As such, Plitsas, a former U.S. intelligence officer in Afghanistan, said the White House’s figures could be off by several hundred.
“Those names are starting to trickle out now,” he told the AP9. “I expect that number to rise significantly.”
Before the Afghan government and army full collapsed and the Taliban took over the country, White House officials estimated that between 10,000 and 15,000 Americans were in the country, according to reports.
The president last week said that more than 120,000 people had been evacuated from the international airport in Kabul ahead of the pullout deadline. That figure is mostly Afghanis, however.
Previously, he promised that U.S. troops would remain until all Americans were evacuated.