Taliban Blocking Charter Flights With Americans From Leaving Afghanistan

By Bill Galluccio

September 8, 2021

Domestic flights and Pakistani plane at Kabul airport
Photo: Anadolu

Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed reports that the Taliban is preventing charter flights from leaving Afghanistan. There have been multiple reports that roughly one thousand people are stranded at the airport in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif.

Blinken urged the Taliban to allow those flights to leave and noted that a "relatively" small number of Americans were among those attempting to evacuate.

"Those flights need to be able to leave, and the United States government, State Department – we are doing everything we can to help make that happen," Blinken said during a press conference at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany. "Those flights need to move. I pointed out some of the complications that are there, but those flights need to move."

Blinken said that while the Taliban is allowing anybody with valid travel documents to leave the country, many of those on board the flights do not have valid documentation.

"It's my understanding that the Taliban has not denied exit to anyone holding a valid document, but they have said that those without valid documents at this point can't leave – but because all of these people are grouped together, that's meant that flights have not been allowed to go," he explained.

Blinken denied that the Taliban was holding anybody hostage at the airport.

"We are not aware of anyone being held on an aircraft or any hostage-like situation at Mazar-i-Sharif. So we have to work through the different requirements and that's exactly what we are doing," he said.

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