Taliban leaders brokered flight, even as thousands more wait to leave after the country's fall to Islamic radicals
The Taliban allowed some 200 foreigners, including Americans, to leave Afghanistan on a Qatar Airways flight to Doha on Thursday, the first evacuation flight since the U.S. withdrawal ended last month, the Associated Press reported.
A dayslong stand-off over charter planes at the airport in the northern town of Mazar-al-Sharif has left dozens of passengers stranded and cast doubt on Taliban assurances to allow foreigners and Afghans with proper travel documents to leave the country.
Two senior Taliban officials helped facilitate the departure, a U.S. diplomat said, confirming that Americans, U.S. green card holders and citizens of Germany, Hungary and Canada were on the flight.
As Taliban authorities patrolled the tarmac, passengers presented their documents for checking, and sniffer dogs inspected luggage laid out on the ground. Some of the veteran airport workers had returned to their jobs after fleeing during the harrowing chaos of the U.S.-led airlift.
Irfan Popalzai, 12, among those boarding the flight with his mother and five brothers and sisters, said his family lives in Maryland.
“I am an Afghan, but you know I am from America and I am so excited (to leave),” he said.
A foreign diplomat, who asked not to be named, told the AP that another 200 foreigners, including Americans, would depart in the next couple of days. Tens of thousands of Afghans are still desperate to flee over fears of what Taliban rule will hold.
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