Civilian flights out of Kabul airport have been suspended indefinitely, as the airspace above Afghanistan is closed.
United Airlines, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic said they were not using the country’s airspace.
A United spokeswoman said the change affects several of the airline’s U.S.-to-India flights.
Flight-tracking website FlightRadar24 showed few commercial flights over Afghanistan at 0300 GMT on August 16, but many planes overflying neighbouring Pakistan and Iran.
Back in July, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration imposed flight restrictions over Afghanistan for U.S. airlines and other U.S. operators.
🔺Warning: The video contains scenes that may be harsh.
— The RAGEX (@theragex) August 16, 2021
The Kabul Airport is engulfed in chaos as people try to flee, and they realize they’ve been largely abandoned.
Meanwhile, social media platforms are flooded with news detailing the struggles faced by foreign entities trying to evacuate their members from Afghanistan.
I think the White House could liable to prosecution under AML/CFT. Not even joking
— Bruno Maçães (@MacaesBruno) August 15, 2021
3. There is reporting that the US is paying vast sums of cash to Taliban to allow the evacuation to proceed. Is this true?
4. What steps are being taken to ensure the billions of reserves in the Afghanistan Bank are not accessed by the Taliban?
— Elise Stefanik (@EliseStefanik) August 15, 2021
As soon as news of the Taliban being at the outskirts of Kabul broke out, questions over foreign embassies started to rise, especially that previous statements had confirmed no plans to evacuate anyone since intelligence reports did not warn of an approaching take over by the Taliban.
The unanticipated arrival of the Taliban at Kabul on Sunday accelerated efforts to transfer diplomats and embassy personnel to Kabul’s international airport on very short notice, which urged western governments to “buy more time” to complete the process.
Overnight, the US, French, German, Saudi, and other diplomatic missions’ staff have been able to reach the airport and leave Afghanistan for good, with no attacks by the Taliban.
To guarantee their citizens’ safe evacuation, U.S. forces fired in the air at Kabul’s airport on Monday to prevent hundreds of civilians running onto the tarmac, a U.S. official, cited by Reuters said.
“The crowd was out of control,” the official told Reuters by phone. “The firing was only done to defuse the chaos.”
Hundreds of Afghans have jammed the airport trying to get out of the country after Taliban insurgents entered the capital on Sunday. U.S. troops are in charge at the airport, helping in the evacuation of embassy staff and other civilians.
Massive crowds of Afghan civilians inside the Kabul International Airport this morning.
It should be noted that the US troops’ main mission is to secure the military section of the airport, hence they make little effort to control the flow of people. pic.twitter.com/xUvn2feKdt
— Status-6 (@Archer83Able) August 16, 2021
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin approved 1,000 more US troops into Afghanistan, for a total of 6,000 US troops that will be in the country soon.
Their primary mission is the security of Kabul’s international airport, which is the entry point for the troops and the exit point for the US embassy staff and Afghans who are leaving the country.
“We are not assuming that every inch of the airport is secure,” said the official, noting reports of Afghan civilians rushing to the airport.
As of right now, there are approximately 3,000 US troops in Afghanistan. The remaining troops are en route or will be in the imminent future.
There have been security incidents at or near the airport, the official said, but US forces have not been targeted, nor have they fired on anyone. Turkish forces remain at the field and are also taking part in the efforts to secure the field. The official could not say whether Turkish forces had been engaged in exchanges of fire.
The US military will have the maximum capacity to move about 5,000 people per day out of Kabul international airport, though they are not able to move that number yet, the official said. They will reach that capacity “within days.”
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