Taliban stops planes of evacuees from leaving Afghanistan | Daily News

Taliban stops planes of evacuees from leaving Afghanistan

A fighter from the Taliban’s Badri 313 special unit stands guard near a Ariana Afghan Airlines plane at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on Sunday.
A fighter from the Taliban’s Badri 313 special unit stands guard near a Ariana Afghan Airlines plane at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on Sunday.

AFGHANISTAN: At least four planes chartered to evacuate several hundred people seeking to escape the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan have been unable to leave the country for days, officials said Sunday, with conflicting accounts emerging about why the flights weren’t able to take off as pressure ramps up on the United States to help those left behind to flee.

An Afghan official at the airport in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif said that the would-be passengers were Afghans, many of whom did not have passports or visas, and thus were unable to leave the country. He said they had left the airport while the situation was sorted out.

The top Republican on the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, however, said that the group included Americans and they were sitting on the planes, but the Taliban were not letting them take off, effectively “holding them hostage.” He did not say where that information came from. It was not immediately possible to reconcile the accounts.

The US promised to continue working with the new Taliban rulers to get those who want to leave out, and the militants pledged to allow anyone with the proper legal documents to leave. But Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas told “Fox News Sunday” that American citizens and Afghan interpreters were being kept on six planes.

“The Taliban will not let them leave the airport,” he said, adding that he’s worried “they’re going to demand more and more, whether it be cash or legitimacy as the government of Afghanistan.” He did not offer more details.

The State Department has no reliable way to confirm information about such charter flights, including how many American citizens might be on them, since it no longer has people on the ground, according to a US official.

The small airport at Mazar-e-Sharif only recently began to handle international flights and so far only to Turkey. The planes in question were bound for Doha, Qatar, the Afghan official said. It was not clear who chartered them or why they were waiting in the northern city. The massive airlift happened at Kabul’s international airport, which initially closed after the US withdrawal but where domestic flights have now resumed.

- INDIA TODAY


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