AFGHANISTAN – (WARSOOR) – Passengers aboard a Qatar Airways aircraft at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, September 9.
Taliban authorities allowed a Qatari charter flight to leave Thursday for Doha from the Kabul airport, the first flight for evacuees to take off since the U.S. ended its military operation in Afghanistan on August 31.
Multiple media reports say roughly 200 people were on board, but VOA has not been able to independently verify the number.
Qatar’s special envoy Mutlaq bin Majed al-Qahtani spoke to reporters Thursday at the Hamid Karzai International Airport, stressing that it was not an evacuation flight but confirming that Americans and other Westerners were on board.
The Qatari envoy said he doesn’t have the exact figure of people being flown out of the Afghan capital.
“But it’s quite a significant number and those who are available and want to travel, I think they will have their boarding passes, their passports,” he said, adding there may be another flight tomorrow and people should “feel that this is normal.”
Speaking alongside al-Qahtani, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said that experts from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have been working to get airport systems back up and running for commercial flights.
Mujahid said he expected the entire airport operation to be in place soon, enabling both domestic, as well as international flights, to resume.
In a statement to VOA, a State Department spokesperson declined to provide additional details regarding the Thursday flight out of Kabul.
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