The Taliban reportedly agreed on Thursday to allow some 200 Americans and other foreign citizens to depart from Kabul on chartered flights to Qatar.
A U.S. official told Reuters the agreement to let the foreigners leave was brokered by U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad. The official “could not say” if these are some of the same people stranded for several days in the city of Mazar-i-Sharif because their private charter planes were not allowed to depart.
Several private rescue operations complained on Monday that the Biden State Department was as much of an obstacle for getting planes out of Mazar-i-Sharif and Kabul as the Taliban.
Among those critics was Democrat Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, who said he was “furious” at the Biden administration for blocking his attempt to get two planeloads of “American citizens, at-risk Afghan allies, and their families” out of Mazar-i-Sharif.
The State Department insisted all flight delays were imposed by the Taliban regime. The Taliban claimed it was not preventing anyone with valid travel documents from leaving Afghanistan.
NBC News cited two sources who confirmed the Reuters report on Thursday morning and said the flights from Kabul were expected to land in Doha, Qatar, late on Thursday. NBC’s sources said it was “unclear” how many of the passengers were U.S. citizens.
The Washington Post quoted “two diplomats based in Kabul” who said about 30 of the departing passengers are Americans, while many of the others are dual nationals. These diplomats said the flight manifest included 211 passengers in total, but they were uncertain how many were able to reach the airport in time for departure.
“The dual nationals on the manifest also included passport holders from the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Ukraine, Canada and Germany,” the Washington Post reported, quoting Taliban and Qatari officials who said the Kabul airport is “up and running” as of Thursday morning.