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Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to face tough questions from the House Foreign Affairs Committee during testimony Monday about the Biden administration’s withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan
Blinken is expected to defend the administration’s handling of the withdrawal by arguing that President Joe Biden was faced with two difficult options: “ending the war or escalating it.”
The exit effectively ended the United States’ two-decade war in Afghanistan, which has cost huge sums of money and thousands of lives.
But the scramble to pull all troops out by the end of August allowed the Taliban to sweep through the country, leading to the collapse of the U.S.-backed government and prompting scenes of chaos — especially at the airport in Kabul, the center of a desperate U.S. and allied evacuation effort.
Thirteen U.S. service members and dozens of others were killed in a suicide bombing near the airport days before the withdrawal was complete.
In total, the U.S. and its allies have moved more than 124,000 people, including 6,000 U.S. citizens out of Afghanistan, the State Department said last week. It’s still unclear exactly how many Afghans who worked for the U.S. were evacuated.
The administration’s handling of the withdrawal has been the target of bipartisan criticism, which continues as some Americans and Afghan allies remain in the country.
“We will continue to help Americans – and Afghans to whom we have a special commitment – depart Afghanistan if they choose,” Blinken will tell the House lawmakers, according to his opening remarks.
“There is no deadline to this mission,” he will say.