150 Americans to board Qatar commercial flight out of Kabul

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150 Americans to board Qatar commercial flight out of Kabul

About 200 Americans and other western foreigners are expected to be flown out of Kabul airport later Thursday on a Qatar Airways flight that delivered humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, US and Qatari officials said.

The flight would mark the first large evacuation flight of US citizens from Afghanistan since the last troops left the Taliban-run country just over a week ago.

The group of evacuees includes an undisclosed number of other western foreigners, two officials told the Associated Press.

The flight is expected to land in Doha later in the day.

“Call it what you want, a charter or a commercial flight, everyone has tickets and boarding passes,” Qatari special envoy Mutlaq bin Majed al-Qahtani said from the tarmac.

Another commercial flight is expected to leave Kabul on Friday, he added.

Afghan refugees are processed inside Hangar 5.
The group of evacuees includes an undisclosed number of other western foreigners.
Olivier Douliery/Pool via REUTERS

It is unclear if those onboard the Qatar flight were among those stranded for several days after Taliban fighters held back charter flights.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken admitted Wednesday that Taliban fighters were holding back charter flights trying to ferry Americans and Afghan allies out of the country.

“As of now, the Taliban are not permitting the charter flights to depart. They claim that some of the passengers do not have the required documentation,” Blinken told reporters at the US air base in Ramstein, Germany.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken shows a picture of his children to a young Afghan refugee.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken admitted Wednesday that Taliban fighters were holding back charter flights.
Olivier Douliery/Pool via AP

“While there are limits to what we can do without personnel on the ground, without an airport with normal security procedures in place, we are working to do everything in our power to support those flights, and to get them off the ground.”

The Biden administration has faced criticism in recent days for not doing more to pressure the Taliban to allow flights to leave Kabul.

The US doesn’t have any troops or diplomats on the ground in Afghanistan after the deadly and botched withdrawal was completed Aug. 31.

Taliban fighters stand guard inside the Hamid Karzai International Airport.
The Biden administration has faced criticism for not doing more to pressure the Taliban to allow flights to leave Kabul.
Kathy Gannon/AP

With Post wires

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