The U.S. estimates as many as 1,500 Americans remain in Afghanistan, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said during a Wednesday news conference. Military efforts have otherwise evacuated approximately 4,500 of 6,000 Americans since August 14.
Of the 1,500 Americans remaining, 500 have been contacted by the State Department and received instructions on how to safely reach the airport. The State Department is working "aggressively" to contact the remaining 1,000 individuals — who may be Americans, Americans no longer in Afghanistan, individuals posing as Americans, or Americans who choose to stay in the country, Blinken said Wednesday. Therefore, the State Department believes the number of Americans in that group actively seeking to leave Afghanistan is "lower, likely significantly lower" than 1,000, per CNN.
"So, I talked a lot about numbers this afternoon," said Blinken, "but even as we are laser focused on the missions, we know that this is about real people." He added, "That's why everyone on our team is putting everything they have into this effort."
The secretary of state also touched on the "complexity and danger of this effort," considering the threat of the Taliban and the "very real possibility of an ISIS-K attack."
"We're taking every precaution, but this is very high-risk," he said. "We're on track to complete our mission by August 31 provided the Taliban continue to cooperate and there is no disruption to this effort." Blinken added that "there is no deadline" to U.S. work in helping American citizens or Afghan allies who want to leave. "That effort will continue every day past August 31." Read more at CNN.