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Afghanistan updates: Blinken faces 2nd day of grilling on Capitol Hill

He appeared before the first congressional hearings since the U.S. withdrawal.

With the U.S. military and diplomatic withdrawal now complete after 20 years in Afghanistan, the Taliban has taken over the country, including the Kabul airport, the site of an often-desperate evacuation effort in past weeks.

ABC News Special
ABC News Special
This special dives into the chaotic events of recent weeks, from the U.S. moving personnel out of its embassy to the desperate Afghans who clung to planes in hopes of fleeing the country.
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But even as the last American troops were flown out to meet President Joe Biden's Aug. 31 deadline, other Americans who wanted to flee the country were left behind. The Biden administration is now focused on a "diplomatic mission" to help them leave but some hoping to evacuate are still stuck in the country. Meanwhile, the Taliban has announced its new "caretaker" government that includes men with U.S. bounties on their heads -- and no women.


More overland evacuations of Americans from Afghanistan: State Department

One more U.S. citizen and two more lawful permanent residents evacuated Afghanistan via overland routes Tuesday, according to State Dept. spokesperson Ned Price.

The State Department provided guidance to them, engaged the Taliban on their safe passage, and had consular officials on the other side of the border to greet them, he said.

Price declined to say which country they transited to, but said these overland evacuations have taken different routes.

To date, at least 36 U.S. citizens and 24 Green Card holders have been evacuated since the U.S. military completed its withdrawal -- including seven U.S. citizens and 13 Green Card holders via overland routes in total.

Yet, the agency still said the number of American citizens who want to leave is still 100. Despite growing skepticism about that number, Price -- just as Blinken did Tuesday and Monday -- said the number is “dynamic” because the situation is so fluid, with some Americans changing their minds about seeking U.S. help, especially as they see that “we are living up to our commitment ... in safe and effective ways.”

He also implied that the lists of other Americans that aid groups, lawmakers and others have often don’t end up including folks who aren’t U.S. citizens, but the “distant relatives” and friends of Americans who come asking for help.

The U.S. continues to talk to the Taliban, but those discussions are largely about Americans’ safe passage, according to Price, calling them “pragmatic,” “technical” and “focused on practical issues.”

There’s still been no evacuations from Mazar-e-Sharif, the northern city where chartered planes had been organized but barred from taking off. Price said they’re not aware of any flights departing there, but again admitted the limits of U.S. power here saying the U.S. had pulled “every lever” available to get these flights out.


7 Marines injured in attack at Kabul airport remain at Walter Reed

Seven Marines injured in the Aug. 26 terror attack at the airport in Kabul remain under care at Walter Reed, according to a Marine Corps statement released Tuesday night.

Two are listed in critical, but stable condition, the statement said, and five are in serious, but stable condition.

The service will not confirm the names of the wounded Marines or indicate which units they serve in, “in an effort to protect their privacy,” said Capt. Johnny Henderson, Marine Corps spokesperson.


Funerals being held for service members killed in Kabul airport bombing

Public funerals are being held this week for the service members killed in last month's ISIS-K suicide bombing at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.

On Tuesday, thousands attended a public funeral at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Lawerence, Massachusetts, for Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo, one of two women killed in the attack.

A funeral service was held Monday morning in Milan, Ohio, for Navy Corpsman Maxton Soviak, 22, at the Edison High School Stadium -- Soviak's alma mater.

On Sunday, residents of Logansport, Indiana, watched the funeral procession of Marine Corps Cpl. Humberto Sanchez, 22, as his body was returned to his hometown.

-ABC News' Meredith Deliso, Miles Cohen, Luis Martinez, and Jennifer Watts



Blinken's Senate hearing adjourned

After nearly five hours, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee adjourned its hearing with Secretary of State Antony Blinken -- the Senate's first on Afghanistan since the U.S. withdrawal from the country.

Following Blinken's first hearing with House lawmakers on Monday, Tuesday's hearing provoked a more thoughtful and less partisan discussion about the limits of American power in Afghanistan and what could have been done better -- with Democrats joining Republicans in taking a tough tone with Blinken.

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., echoed Republican Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah and Marco Rubio of Florida in pressing why the U.S. kept an Aug. 31 withdrawal date as it became clear more evacuations were needed and on how officials could not have foreseen the Afghan government collapsing in 11 days.

"I do not think that is true. I know it was not the consensus opinion or the most likely possibility -- but the possibility of a collapse was not 0%. And it was not 1%. It probably wasn't 10%. It was probably, based on what we have been hearing in this committee, that was always a fairly -- it was a possibility that had to be grappled with," he said.

More congressional hearings with Blinken and other top officials, including Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, are expected in the coming weeks and months.