Scores Of Americans, Foreigners Leave Afghanistan
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) – Some 200 people, including about 30 Americans, left war-ravaged Afghanistan Thursday on one of the first international commercial flights since last month. The Qatar Airways flight to Doha with onboard men, women, and children marked the reopening of the Kabul airport after it was damaged after the Taliban captured the capital.
According to diplomats in Kabul, a manifest for the Qatar Airways flight reportedly granted permission for 211 passengers to leave from Kabul.
But it wasn’t immediately clear how many passengers made it to the airport to board the flight.
The Taliban was pressed to allow the departures by U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad, officials said. Dual nationals on the manifest reportedly also included passport holders from Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Ukraine, Canada, and Germany.
Their departures came after the Islamist Taliban government “agreed to their evacuations,” a U.S. official was quoted as saying.
With no boots on the ground, U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration has to negotiate with the Taliban to get trapped people out of Afghanistan.
But Mutlaq al-Qahtani, Qatar’s special envoy to Afghanistan, told reporters that it should no longer be seen as an “evacuation.” He claimed it was rather “free passage” for those with valid travel documents. “We want people to think this is normal.”
“I can say this is a historic day in the history of Afghanistan, as the Kabul airport is now operational,” he said. “We want to have a gradual reopening of the airport.”
Thursday’s departures were among the first international flights to leave Kabul airport since the Islamist militia seized the capital in mid-August.
It triggered the chaotic U.S.-led evacuation of an estimated 124,000 foreigners and at-risk Afghans.
However, several sources confirmed that many Americans and thousands of at-risk Afghans, including allies, have not left yet.
In Washington, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki played down concerns about their whereabouts, saying that about 100 U.S. citizens were still in Afghanistan as of Wednesday. She claimed not all necessarily wanted to leave now. “Some may have family in the country or other reasons for not departing yet,” Paski added.
The flight came two days after the Taliban announced an interim government of mainly ethnic Pashtun men. They include Islamist hardliners and some wanted by the United States on terrorism charges.
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