First commercial flight after US withdrawal takes 200 foreigners out of Kabul
In what many have described as a positive step, an estimated 200 foreigners, including Americans, left Afghanistan on a commercial flight out of Kabul during the week with the cooperation of the Taliban, the first such large-scale departure since US forces completed their frantic withdrawal over a week ago.
The Qatar Airways flight to Doha marked a breakthrough in the bumpy coordination between the US and Afghanistan’s new rulers. A standoff over charter planes at another airport has left hundreds of mostly Afghan people stranded, waiting for Taliban permission to leave.
A senior US official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to talk to the media, said the Taliban’s foreign minister and deputy prime minister helped facilitate the flight. Americans, US green card holders and other nationalities, including Germans, Hungarians and Canadians, were aboard, the official said.
Qatari envoy Mutlaq bin Majed al-Qahtani said another 200 passengers will leave Afghanistan on Friday.
Ten US citizens and 11 green-card holders made Thursday’s flight, State Department spokesman Ned Price said. Americans organizing charter evacuation flights said they knew of more US passport and green-card holders in Mazar-e-Sharif and elsewhere awaiting flights out.
We can confirm that, of the 39 we invited, 10 U.S. citizens and 11 Lawful Permanent Residents were on-board the Qatar Airways charter flight out of Kabul today. This is another concrete demonstration of our commitment to assist those to whom we have a special commitment.
The White House said before the flight that there were roughly 100 US citizens left in Afghanistan. But several veterans groups have said that number is too low because many citizens never bothered to tell US officials they were in the country. And they said the figure overlooks green-card-carrying permanent US residents living in Afghanistan who want to leave.
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