U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, a San Diego Republican, said in a statement Wednesday, Sept. 15, that he has helped a San Diego area couple in their 80s who are both U.S. citizens return to San Diego after weeks of being harassed and frightened by the Taliban while attempting to reach the Kabul airport in Afghanistan.

“This is a cause for celebration and the result of almost countless hours of work under very difficult conditions,” Issa said in the release posted to his website. “Our team simply would not give up, and today it paid off and we got them home. While we have made extraordinary progress, but we’re not stopping until everyone comes home,” he said, as Fox News reported.

Issa added that the couple was on their way home to San Diego County. Their names are hidden due to safety concerns because their Afghan relatives are still in the country and may face reprisals.

Their granddaughter, Zuhal, eventually approached the Issa district office for help. According to Issa’s office, the couple attempted to pass through Taliban checkpoints several times for weeks but were harassed and intimidated, thus preventing them from boarding a plane home. 

Issa’s office did not provide any information about how the couple managed to leave the country.

The couple is one of 33 residents from San Diego that Issa has helped return from Afghanistan.. Since the United States withdrew forces and the Taliban gained control, Issa has assisted in getting people out of the country, the release said. Six families from San Diego’s El Cajon neighborhood were among them, having visited relatives in the country earlier this year.

One family with Cajon Valley Union School District students is still trapped in Afghanistan, unable to leave. A considerable refugee population can be found in El Cajon, which is located east of San Diego.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Congress this week that about 100 U.S. citizens remain in the country. Rescue groups and lawmakers think the number could be far higher.

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