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21 more U.S. citizens evacuated from Afghanistan

Afghan security officials stand guard after flight operations resumed at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul earlier this month. File Photo by Stringer/EPA-EFE
Afghan security officials stand guard after flight operations resumed at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul earlier this month. File Photo by Stringer/EPA-EFE

Sept. 11 (UPI) -- The U.S. government has evacuated 21 more U.S. citizens from Afghanistan, the U.S. State Department announced.

The evacuation occurred Friday through a charter flight and overland route, and also included the departure from Afghanistan of 11 lawful permanent residents, the department said.

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"Specifically, the department assisted two U.S. citizens and 11 LPRs depart Afghanistan via an overland route," Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters. "We provided guidance to them, worked to facilitate their safe passage, and Embassy officials greeted them once they crossed the border. Additionally, another Qatar Airways charter flight departed Kabul with 19 U.S. citizens aboard."

Blinken added that 44 U.S. citizens were "offered seats," but "not all of them chose to travel."

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White House National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said in a statement Friday that the new departures from Kabul and through "overland passage to a neighboring country," show "how we are giving Americans clear and safe options to leave Afghanistan from different locations."

"A number of Americans have taken these options; some have decided not to, for a variety of reasons," Horne continued. "That is their right. We understand these are difficult decisions. We will continue to provide proven options for leaving. It is up to Americans who remain whether they choose to take them."

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State Department spokesman Ned Price tweeted Thursday that 10 U.S. citizens and 11 U.S. permanent residents were evacuated Thursday, bringing the total number of Americans evacuated over the past two days to 31.

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The charter flight Thursday represented a significant development after the Taliban blocked aircraft from leaving for several days.

Earlier in the week the United States evacuated four U.S. citizens out of Afghanistan using an overland route to an unnamed third country, a State Department official said.

Officials have said over the past several days that around 100 U.S. citizens seek to leave Afghanistan.

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The Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks prompted the 20-year war in Afghanistan, known as America's longest war, which ended on Aug. 31 when the Pentagon announced the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops.

The State Department announced Monday that the United States and its partners had relocated more than 124,000 people to safety, including 6,000 U.S. citizens.

"The United States mobilized an unprecedented, global effort through our diplomatic channels to evacuate U.S. citizens, personnel from partner nations, and at-risk Afghans from Kabul," the State Department said in the statement Monday.

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