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State Dept. says it can't confirm if 6 planes are being held hostage in Afghanistan by the Taliban

This could be the biggest test yet for the Biden administration if the claim is true.

Published: September 5, 2021 7:13pm

Updated: September 5, 2021 10:47pm

The State Department said on Sunday that it was unable to confirm or deny a claim by Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Tx.) that the Taliban is refusing to let six American planes loaded with American citizens and their allies leave Afghanistan. 

The State Department spokesperson said it does not have the "reliable means" to confirm the claim "because it has no information on the ground about charter flights following the U.S. military withdrawal from the country," according to The Hill.

McCaul said the Taliban is "holding them hostage for demands right now," though he didn't explain what they were seeking. He said, however, the flights had been cleared by the State Department.

"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 told The Hill.

"We understand the concern that many people are feeling as they try to facilitate further charter and other passage out of Afghanistan," the spokesperson added.

The spokesperson said the State Department would still "hold the Taliban to its pledge to let people freely depart Afghanistan."

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