top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee,

Rep. Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican, speaks during the House Republicans’ press conference on the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan on August 31.
(CNN)Rep. Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he has received classified briefings that American citizens and Afghan allies are stuck at the Mazar-i-Sharif airport in Afghanistan.

“(The Taliban) are not clearing the airplanes to depart. They’ve sat at the airport for the last couple of days,” McCaul said on Fox News Sunday. “We know the reason why is because the Taliban want something in exchange. This is really Chris, turning into a hostage situation where they’re not going to allow American citizens leave until they get full recognition from the United States of America.”
Afghanistan showed Biden unbowed
Afghanistan showed Biden unbowed
McCaul told Fox News that he has received information “in the classified space,” that the number of Americans in Afghanistan is “in the hundreds.”
The Texas Republican added: “We have six airplanes at Mazar Sharif airport, six airplanes with American citizens on them as I speak, also with these interpreters, and the Taliban is holding them hostage for demands right now.” CNN has not been able to independently confirm McCaul’s claim that aircraft with American citizens onboard have been unable to leave the airport.
McCaul spokesperson Leslie Shedd clarified: “There are planes awaiting takeoff in Mazar-i-Sharif that are not being allowed to take off by the Taliban. There were initially issues with the manifests not matching the actual humans on the plane but that was cleared up days ago… It is the Taliban that is refusing to allow them to leave the country.”
The US State Department said it didn’t have any information on this specific situation but noted the US no longer has resources in Afghanistan.
“We understand the concern that many people are feeling as they try to facilitate further charter and other passage out of Afghanistan. However, we do not have personnel on the ground, we do not have air assets in the country, we do not control the airspace — whether over Afghanistan or elsewhere in the region,” a State Department spokesperson told CNN.
“Given these constraints, we also do not have a reliable means to confirm the basic details of charter flights, including who may be organizing them, the number of U.S. citizens and other priority groups on-board, the accuracy of the rest of the manifest, and where they plan to land, among many other issues,” the spokesperson said.
A White House spokesperson told CNN Sunday night the administration continues “to work around the clock to ensure safe passage out for any Americans who are seeking to leave Afghanistan.”
And a separate source familiar with details told CNN Sunday that the US government is “not aware of any hostage situation,” like McCaul described and “has not confirmed any Americans” are in Mazar-i-Sharif, trying to leave from the airport.

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