Washington [US], September 6 (ANI): American citizens and Afghan allies are stuck at Mazar-i-Sharif airport in Afghanistan as the Taliban are not clearing six airplanes to depart, a US lawmaker said.
"(The Taliban) are not clearing the airplanes to depart. They've sat at the airport for the last couple of days," McCaul said on Fox News Sunday. "We know the reason why is because the Taliban want something in exchange. This is really Chris, turning into a hostage situation where they're not going to allow American citizens to leave until they get full recognition from the United States of America," CNN quoted him as saying.
McCaul told Fox News that he has received information "in the classified space," that the number of Americans in Afghanistan is "in the hundreds."
The Texas Republican added: "We have six airplanes at Mazar Sharif airport, six airplanes with American citizens on them as I speak, also with these interpreters, and the Taliban is holding them hostage for demands right now." CNN has not been able to independently confirm McCaul's claim that aircraft with American citizens onboard have been unable to leave the airport.
However, the US State Department said it didn't have any information on this specific situation but noted the US no longer has resources in Afghanistan.
A White House spokesperson told CNN Sunday night the administration continues "to work around the clock to ensure safe passage out for any Americans who are seeking to leave Afghanistan."
Roughly 124,000 people were evacuated last month from Kabul in a massive U.S.-led airlift of US and other foreign citizens as well as vulnerable Afghans as the Taliban took control there.
According to the New York Times, the plight of the passengers hoping to leave the country from the airport in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif mirrors that of thousands of people who were unable to board planes from Kabul, the capital, after Taliban militants took the city on the eve of the U.S. troop withdrawal. (ANI)