Thirteen Brits airlifted to safety from Kabul in first Taliban approved evacuation

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Taliban fighters walk past a Qatar Airways aircraft at the airport in Kabul (Bernat Armangue/AP) (AP)
Taliban fighters walk past a Qatar Airways aircraft at the airport in Kabul (Bernat Armangue/AP) (AP)

Thirteen British nationals have been airlifted out of Kabul in the first Taliban approved evacuation, the Foreign Secretary has said.

Dominic Raab said the British nationals were among around 200 foreigners able to leave Afghanistan on a Qatar Airways flight to Doha.

In a statement, Dominic Raab said: “We are grateful to our Qatari friends for facilitating a flight carrying 13 British nationals from Kabul to safety in Doha today.

“We expect the Taliban to keep to their commitment to allow safe passage for those who want to leave.”

Some 200 foreigners, including Americans, left Afghanistan on a commercial flight out of Kabul on Thursday, the first such large-scale departure since US and other forces completed their frantic withdrawal over a week ago.

The Qatar Airways flight to Doha marked a breakthrough in the bumpy coordination between the UK and Afghanistan’s new Taliban rulers.

A senior official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to talk to the media, provided the number of Westerners on the Qatar flight and said two senior Taliban officials helped facilitate the departure — the new foreign minister and deputy prime minister.

Americans, U.S. green card holders and other nationalities, including Germans, Hungarians and Canadians, were aboard, the official said.

Qatari envoy Mutlaq bin Majed al-Qahtani said another 200 passengers will leave Afghanistan on Friday.

“I can clearly say that this is a historic day in the history of Afghanistan as Kabul airport is now operational,” al-Qahtani said.

“Call it what you want, a charter or a commercial flight, everyone has tickets and boarding passes,” he added. “Hopefully, life is becoming normal in Afghanistan.”

The flight was the first to take off from the Kabul airport since American forces left the country at the end of August.

The accompanying scenes of chaos, including Afghans plunging to their deaths from the sides of military aircraft on takeoff and a suicide bombing that killed 169 Afghans and 13 US service members, came to define the end of America’s two-decade war.

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