Posted by on September 9, 2021 8:01 pm
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Taliban Allows First International Flight To Leave Kabul With 200 Westerners, Including Americans, On Board

Ten days after the US and Western countries concluded their chaotic evacuation from Kabul international airport, the previously severely damaged airport is now said to be “fully up and running” – according to a Qatari official who assisted the Taliban in getting it operational again. 

Qatari and Turkish technical teams have been assisting the Taliban in getting commercial flights going again, with Qatar’s special envoy to Afghanistan, Mutlaq al-Qahtani, announcing the airport is “about 90 per cent ready for operations but its reopening is planned gradually.”

A Qatar Airways plane had touched down at the airport earlier on Thursday carrying humanitarian aid inbound, while it later departed for Doha carrying passengers, “including a large group of foreigners on board,” according to Al Jazeera. It marks the first passenger flight departure since the US withdrew on August 30, taking the last American troops out of the twenty-year long war. 

First international flight out of Kabul airport, via AFP/Getty Images

Crucially, it sets up the ability to fly between 100 and 150 Westerners out from Kabul “in the coming hours” after the Taliban gave permission. This will include a group of Americans who have been seeking to leave the country, Al Jazeera reports. Other reports suggested as many as 200 mostly Westerners have been authorized to leave Thursday.

CNN observed that:

A US official and a source with knowledge of the matter had earlier said the Taliban had cleared around 200 people, including American citizens, to fly out.

Live pictures showed people boarding the flight on Thursday afternoon Kabul time; earlier, Qatari and Taliban officials were seen touring the airport tarmac, where the Qatar Airways Boeing 777 stood.

Qatari special envoy Qahtani said, “This is a historic day in the history of Afghanistan as Kabul airport is fully operational. We have been faced by huge challenges … but we can now say that the airport is fit for navigation.”

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid issued a statement of appreciation to Qatar, saying, “In the very near future, the airport will be ready for all sorts of flights including commercial flights.” He issued the words while standing beside the Qatari delegation on the airport tarmac. 

As The Daily Caller reports, former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany responded to Taliban-grounded flights in Afghanistan, saying the U.S. is “at the mercy of terrorists.”

“We have left Americans behind. That is a hard, cold fact. Another fact is that we are at the mercy of terrorists right now. We are at the mercy of the Taliban. They are dictating terms,” McEnany said.

McEnany criticized the Secretary of State Antony Blinken for saying the Taliban are not letting Americans leave.

“It’s a stunning admission as to where we are.”

Days ago Kabul’s airport saw its first domestic flights depart, albeit without the use of radar or navigation systems. This served at the time to make “international civilian flights more difficult to resume” – as The Hill highlighted.

Given Thursday’s declaration that the airport has resumed international air traffic, radar and navigation systems have now presumably come back online. 

Tyler Durden
Thu, 09/09/2021 – 15:12

Originally appeared on Read More

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