Pentagon press secretary John Kirby on Monday refused to give the specific number of Americans evacuated from Afghanistan.
Kirby said during a press briefing on Monday that since August 14, about 37,000 people have been evacuated from the Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA), where the U.S. is basing its evacuation effort.
On the number of Americans flown out, he said it was “several thousand,” but declined to give more specific numbers. The latest reported figure of evacuated Americans stood at 2,500 as of Saturday.
When asked if the number was vague because the U.S. did not know or if the ambiguity was deliberate, Kirby responded “I think I’m just going to leave it at several thousand.”
The White House has previously given an estimate of 11,000 Americans stuck in Afghanistan, after the Taliban took over Afghanistan in mid-August.
On Sunday, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said the number of Americans in Afghanistan is unknown since not all register with the U.S. government when they enter the country or leave. He said the U.S. was in touch with “several thousand” of them.
Meanwhile, the Taliban is warning the U.S. and the U.K. to complete evacuation operations by August 31, or face consequences.
Kirby said the U.S. military is aware of those public statements and understands them, adding the goal is to complete the non-combatant evacuation operation by August 31. He also said the Pentagon has not recommended to the White House that the August 31 deadline be extended.
He also indicated the U.S. military was now trying to help small numbers of Americans stuck outside the airport to reach the evacuation site.