Some reports estimated that the number of abandoned individuals could surpass 1,000, amid widespread concerns that Americans and Afghans who partnered with the US could face persecution or even taken hostage.
Blinken, however, downplayed the number.
“We believe there are still a small number of Americans, under 200 and likely closer to 100, who remain in Afghanistan and want to leave,” he said.
“We’re trying to determine exactly how many,” he continued. “We’re going through manifests and calling and texting through our lists and will have more details to share as soon as possible.”
He also suggested, without evidence, that the Americans who were left behind chose to stay. He claimed many were dual citizens with “deep roots and extended families in Afghanistan who resided there for many years.”
Several reports from Americans abandoned in Afghanistan confirm they tried to escape but could not make it to the U.S.’s checkpoints.
CNN’s Clarissa Ward reported on Monday that members of a Texas family who were visiting a family member in Afghanistan had been left behind after failing to make it past the Taliban’s checkpoints outside the Kabul airport.
And another American woman, who served as a military interpreter, told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Monday that she couldn’t get to the airport because she was tear-gassed by the Taliban.
Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, head of the U.S. Central Command, admitted that the U.S. “did not get out everyone who we wanted to get out” but did not say whether the U.S. would take additional action to make sure all Americans are retrieved from Afghanistan.