21 Americans Aboard Qatari Flight, Not Everyone Chose to Evacuate Afghanistan: Price

The U.S. State Department confirmed that 39 Americans were invited on the first commercial flight allowed to take off from Kabul’s airport on Sept. 9, although not everyone ultimately chose to depart Afghanistan, citing different reasons.

“We can confirm that, of the 39 we invited, 10 U.S. citizens and 11 Lawful Permanent Residents were on-board the Qatar Airways charter flight out of Kabul today,” spokesman Ned Price said in a statement on Thursday.

“This is another concrete demonstration of our commitment to assist those to whom we have a special commitment,” he added.

The Qatar Airways plane left Hamid Karzai International Airport on the evening of Sept. 9 local time and landed successfully in Doha, the capital of Qatar, several hours later.

An estimated 200 foreigners left the war-torn nation on the commercial flight with the cooperation of the Taliban—the first such large-scale departure since U.S. forces completed their frantic withdrawal over a week ago.

Passengers board a Qatar Airways aircraft at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Sept. 9, 2021. (Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images)

Not all of the Americans that were invited accepted to depart Afghanistan on Sept. 9, Price said during a news conference following the successful landing of the charter flight in Doha.

“In our engagement with them, they offered a number of different reasons,” Price said, referring to Americans who chose not to take part in Thursday’s evacuation.

“Some wanted more time to consider it. Others wanted to remain with extended family, at least for the time being. Others cited medical issues,” he explained.

Hundreds of other Afghans who say they are at risk for helping the Americans have gathered for more than a week in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, waiting for permission to board evacuation flights chartered by U.S. supporters. Many are believed not to have the necessary travel documents.

Price confirmed during Thursday’s briefing that no charter flights have taken off from the airport in Mazar so far.

“I can tell you that has nothing to do with any inaction or action by the part of the United States government,” Price said. “And we were very clear that we want to see the Taliban permit those who have expressed a desire to leave in this way to do so.”

According to Qatari envoy Mutlaq bin Majed al-Qahtani, another 200 passengers will leave Afghanistan on Sept. 10 from the Kabul International Airport.

It’s still not clear how many Americans are stranded in Afghanistan. The Biden administration said between 100 and 200 were left behind when U.S. troops completed their withdrawal, but others have pegged the number around 500.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.