US announces first American departures from Afghanistan since pull-out

US official says Taliban did not impede four Americans from leaving by land

A member of the Taliban stands amid debris of the CIA base in Deh Sabz district, north-east of Kabul, on September 6.  AFP
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Four Americans left Afghanistan by land on Monday without the Taliban interfering, in the first departures arranged by the US government since its military pull-out.

The four US citizens left by land and were greeted by American diplomats, a senior official said, without identifying the country to which they crossed.

"The Taliban did not impede them" and were aware of the effort, the official said on board a flight taking Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Qatar.

Officials say other Americans may have left since the US ended its 20-year war on August 31, but they would have done so by private means.

Washington says it is closely watching whether the Taliban keeps its promises to let US citizens and allies depart.

It is deciding how to deal with the militants, who seized the capital Kabul on August 15 as the US-backed government crumbled.

US officials say more than 100 Americans, mostly dual nationals, remain in Afghanistan after tens of thousands of people were flown out in the last days of America's longest war.

President Joe Biden's Republican rivals have been quick to accuse him of abandoning Americans.

Tens of thousands of interpreters or others who supported the US mission, and their family members, are believed to remain, with many fearing retribution despite Taliban assurances.

With Kabul airport in disarray, land routes are the key way out of Afghanistan, mainly through Pakistan or Iran, which does not have diplomatic relations with Washington.

Updated: September 06, 2021, 10:05 PM