Pentagon Taps U.S. Commercial Airlines for Evacuation Efforts in Afghanistan
The Pentagon is seeking help from U.S. commercial airlines to help in the evacuation effort of those left in Afghanistan amid the capital's Taliban seizure.
Department of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said they had activated Stage 1 of the Civil Reserve Air Fleet program (CRAF) on Sunday, NPR reported.
The U.S. military is asking for 18 aircraft. Three each will come from America Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Atlas Air, and Omni Air; two from Hawaiian Airlines; and four from United Airlines.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the civilian planes would not land at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. Instead, they will carry people from temporary locations after they landed on flights from Afghanistan.
The aircraft will be used for the onward movement of passengers from temporary safe havens outside Afghanistan. President Joe Biden said on Sunday that the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan might be extended beyond August 31.
Biden said they hope they will not have to extend. He noted that there would still be discussions and talks about how far along they are in the process, The Wall Street Journal reported. The first flights carrying evacuees from Afghanistan were expected on Monday.
Pentagon Using the U.S. Commercial Airlines
The Civil Reserve Air Fleet program was only used thrice in history, with Austin activating the recent one. Austin said they continue to look at different ways to reach out and contact American citizens and help them get into the airfield.
The defense secretary also talked about evacuating Afghan citizens who have worked with the troops, diplomats, media, and non-governmental troops since 2001. Austin said they are included in the Special Immigrant Visa program, according to The Guardian report.
U.S. State Secretary Antony Blinken announced on Sunday that they had gotten 8,000 people out over the last 24 hours.
However, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said that several thousands of Americans were still in Afghanistan, with the Biden administration not knowing the precise number.
When Blinken was asked if the U.S. had to ask permission from the Taliban to get people out, he answered that they are in control and "that is the reality."
Austin said the Taliban has been allowing people to pass safely through if they have an American passport and proper credentials.
Taliban on U.S. Withdrawal
The militant group's leader earlier announced that they were ensuring they will not engage in systemic retribution, with vague reassurances to women.
The chairman of the Taliban's Military Commission, Mullah Yaqoub, ordered Tuesday that fighters in Kabul should not enter people's homes or seize property, The New York Times reported.
However, Yaqoub also said that the Taliban would be collecting weapons and government property in an organized manner. He added that looting the state property "was a betrayal of the country," warning that anyone caught will be dealt with.
A Taliban delegation was also discussing with political leaders the formation of an interim government. Amir Khan Muttaqi is leading the delegation. He served as the minister of higher education in the previous Taliban government.
This article is owned by Latin Post
Written by: Mary Webber
WATCH: 18 U.S. Commercial Planes To Aid Evacuation in Afghanistan - From MSNBC
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