Taliban Gives Permission for 200 American Civilians, Others to Leave Afghanistan

Taliban officials have reportedly agreed to allow 200 Americans, U.S. permanent residents and holders of other Western passports to depart Afghanistan on chartered flights on Thursday, according to several reports.

A U.S. official reportedly told Reuters that the group is expected to leave from Kabul on Thursday after U.S. special representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad urged the Taliban to allow the exit, the first large-scale departure of Americans from Afghanistan since the U.S. ended its withdrawal from the country on August 31.

The Associated Press reported that two Qatari officials say they expect 100 to 150 Americans to depart from Kabul’s airport on Thursday on a Qatari flight that had delivered humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.

A Qatari official told the Wall Street Journal that the flight was not an evacuation flight as all of the passengers hold foreign passports and, if required, visas for their destinations, and have been ticketed by the airline.

The reports come after the Taliban had been in a stand-off with organizers of several charter planes who were attempting to evacuate Americans and at-risk Afghans from an airport in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif. The Taliban claimed that they would let passengers with valid travel documents leave but that they were preventing the planes from evacuating several hundred people because many of those at the northern airport did not have the required papers.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday the U.S. was in communication with the Taliban and looking to end the standoff over the charter flights at the northern airport.

“We’ve been assured all American citizens and Afghan citizens with valid travel documents will be allowed to leave,” Blinken said.

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