Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) called for President Joe Biden to “complete the massive evacuation of American citizens” before withdrawing from Afghanistan.
Menendez released a statement Thursday after two bombing attacks rocked the city of Kabul, killing multiple Afghans and at least four U.S. Marines, according to reports. Numerous other injuries have also been reported.
“I condemn in the strongest and most forceful terms today’s attacks targeting U.S. citizens, personnel, and vulnerable Afghans trying to flee Afghanistan. I understand that American personnel were among the casualties and my prayers are with the victims of this cowardly attack and their families,” Menendez said in a statement.
“As we wait for more details to come in, one thing is clear: We can’t trust the Taliban with Americans’ security,” he continued. “This is a full-fledged humanitarian crisis, and the U.S. government personnel, already working under extreme circumstances, must secure the airport and complete the massive evacuation of American citizens and vulnerable Afghans desperately trying to leave the country.”
In a statement, Senate Foreign Relations Chair Bob Menendez said, "As we wait for more details to come in, one thing is clear: We can’t trust the Taliban with Americans’ security." pic.twitter.com/fPoYUIqGSv
— Jack Turman III (@jackturmanIII) August 26, 2021
Menendez is one of the top Democrats in the Senate and chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Menendez’s statement comes after dozens of House lawmakers released a joint statement before the attacks calling on Biden to extend his self-imposed deadline to withdraw U.S. forces on August 31. As The Daily Wire reported:
Hundreds of Americans and hundreds of thousands of U.S. allies remain in the largely Taliban-controlled country as U.S. forces prepare to withdraw in a matter of days. Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH) and Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) secured the support of dozens of lawmakers in the House Problem Solvers Caucus to push Biden to extend the withdrawal deadline and continue evacuations.
“As Democrats and Republicans, we stand united in our commitment to protecting U.S. citizens, diplomats, intelligence officers, and our foreign partners who are currently attempting to flee Afghanistan. In this time of tremendous danger, politics must be put aside to advance our common goals,” the group said in a statement.
“From this week’s bipartisan Member briefing, it is apparent that the Administration’s set date for departure from Afghanistan on August 31st does not provide enough time to evacuate all American citizens and our partners. We respectfully call on the Administration to reconsider its timeline and provide a clear plan to Congress that will result in the completion of our shared national objectives,” it continued.
The State Department reported Wednesday that roughly 1,500 Americans are believed to be in Afghanistan. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the department was in contact with about 500 of those and working on evacuating them. Many times more Afghans who worked with the U.S. military are believed to be in Afghanistan with little hope of evacuating before the August 31 deadline. Estimates indicate at least 150,000 Afghans and their families eligible for visas out of the country remain in Afghanistan.
Related: Four US Marines Killed, Three Wounded In Kabul Bombing Attacks