Taliban Agree to Allow 200 Foreigners in Afghanistan to Fly Out of Kabul
20:56 GMT 09.09.2021 (Updated: 13:23 GMT 06.08.2022)
Earlier, there were reports that planes chartered to transport Americans and Afghans out of the country had been stranded at Mazar-i-Sharif International Airport in the northern part of the country, with many suggesting that the US State Department was not doing enough to help them leave.
The Taliban* agreed to let 200 American civilians and other non-Afghans fly out of Kabul airport on charter flights, with the first commercial flight carrying more than 100 passengers arriving in Doha on Thursday evening, Reuters reported.
According to the report, the Taliban were pressured by US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad to allow the travel.
"The first plane that departed today from the Kabul airport after its restoration by Qatari specialists landed in Doha, with about 113 passengers on board. They are citizens of the United States, Canada and other countries, most of whom will continue their journey from Qatar to their destination," the source at Doha confirmed to Sputnik.
Among the passengers, there were also residents from Ukraine, Germany, and the UK. As of Thursday evening, it was yet to be specified if there were any Afghan nationals without passports of other countries onboard.
The flights were scheduled to depart on Thursday, with no details on how many US citizens and travelers from other countries would be on board. A US diplomat cited by Reuters did not specify whether the Americans and third-country nationals were among those stuck
for days in Mazar-i-Sharif, on charter flights that had been denied permission to depart.
The US State Department welcomed the flight from Kabul to Doha carrying US citizens, lawful permanent residents, and others, and said it expects more such chances for Americans to leave Afghanistan by air or other ways in the future.
According to spokesman Ned Price, the US reminded Taliban officials that "additional steps such as these will be well received by the international community." He would not specify how many Americans were on the trip, stating that the Biden administration had invited 30 Americans and lawful permanent residents to join them, but that not all had accepted.
Moreover, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab expressed his gratitude
to Qatar for "facilitating a flight carrying thirteen British nationals from Kabul to safety in Doha today." He also added that the UK expects the Taliban will fulfill its commitment "to allow safe passage for those who want to leave."
On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken blamed the earlier deadlock on the Taliban and urged the Islamists to allow the charter flights to leave Afghanistan. Blinken at the time stated that the US was doing everything possible to get the flights off the ground, but that the Taliban would not allow them to leave.
US Trying to Get 'Vulnerable' People Out From Afghanistan
The Biden administration claimed that about 100 Americans remain to be evacuated, despite US media reports suggesting that volunteer groups organizing private evacuation efforts and Republicans claim that there are over 500 American citizens waiting to be evacuated.
A least six planes that were hired to evacuate
Americans and allies from Afghanistan were denied permission to leave by the Taliban over the weekend, according to reports.
According to reports citing leaked emails, the State Department allegedly declined to approve privately-chartered flights out of Afghanistan that could have evacuated US nationals and Afghan special immigrant visa travelers.
The Department of Homeland Security said earlier
that over 60,000 people have arrived in the US from Afghanistan as part of Operation Allies Welcome, which began on August 17.
According to the DHS, 17% of individuals arriving are
US citizens and permanent residents who were in Afghanistan when the government was overthrown by the Taliban. The remaining 83% is made up of a diverse group, including those with Special Immigrant Visas, and others who worked as interpreters or in other capacities for the US or NATO.
There are also other visa holders and visa applicants whose applications have not yet been processed, per the Department. The remainder is "vulnerable" Afghans, including women and human rights activists, who might be threatened by the Taliban.
A hectic airlift of tens of thousands of foreign citizens and Afghans escaping the Taliban's sudden takeover accompanied the US and NATO pullout. The chaotic scenes, which included Afghans tumbling to their deaths while clinging to military planes taxiing on a runway and a suicide bombing that killed 169 Afghans and 13 US service members, came to characterize the final days of the US-led intervention.
Following months of military operations, the Taliban speedily conquered Kabul
, the Afghan capital, on August 15, and the government crumbled. Last Tuesday, the last American military plane lifted out from Kabul airport, bringing an end to an almost two-decade foreign military presence in the country.
*The Taliban is a terrorist group banned in Russia and a number of other countries.