Afghan Pilots in Uzbekistan to Get Flown to US Base in Doha - Reports
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - A group of Afghan pilots are expected to be transferred to a US military base from Uzbekistan this weekend, under a new agreement between the US and Uzbek governments, The Wall Street Journal reports citing people familiar with the matter.
The Afghan Air Force pilots, who fled to Uzbekistan after the Taliban* took over Kabul in mid-August, will likely be flown out to the US military base in Doha, Qatar, where they will be processed for onward travel, the newspaper said on Saturday.
The Taliban has promised amnesty to government officials and members of the military, but the pilots still fear for their safety and the Uzbek government has been under pressure by the Taliban to hand over the pilots, according to The Wall Street Journal.
It is unclear whether the pilots will eventually end up being transferred to the US.
"Through a lot of diligent work, we are hopeful that the pilots and military personnel, including the husband [of] one of my constituents, are going to get out of Uzbekistan this weekend," Republican Representative for Texas, August Pfluger, told The Wall Street Journal. "This was accomplished through constant work to hold the Biden administration's feet to the fire," he added.
There are currently 46 aircraft in Uzbekistan that flew over from Afghanistan, as well as pilots, crews, and their families, totaling some 585 people, according to the newspaper. Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen has called on the pilots to return to Afghanistan as the country needs its people to rebuild itself.
© REUTERS / MAXAR TECHNOLOGIESAn August 29, 2021 satellite image shows the Uzbek camp, located just across the border from Afghanistan, which holds U.S.-trained Afghan pilots and other personnel.
An August 29, 2021 satellite image shows the Uzbek camp, located just across the border from Afghanistan, which holds U.S.-trained Afghan pilots and other personnel.
Internationally recognized Afghan President Ashraf Ghani resigned and left the country for the United Arab Emirates after the Taliban took over the capital, Kabul, on August 15. The seizure of power has forced thousands of Afghans to flee for fear of reprisals from the militants.
*The Taliban is a terrorist group banned in Russia and a number of other countries.