Breaking News: Pentagon asks airlines for help moving evacuees

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In this image provided by the U.S. Marines, Soldiers assigned to 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division escort evacuees to the terminal for check-in during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Friday August 20, 2021. (Lance Cpl. Nicholas Guevara / US Marine Corps via AP)

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The Pentagon said on Sunday it was officially seeking help from commercial airlines to move evacuees from Afghanistan once they were out of their country.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin activated the initial phase of the Civil Reserve Air Fleet program, requesting 18 planes: three each from American Airlines, Atlas Air, Delta Air Lines and Omni Air; two from Hawaiian Airlines; and four from United Airlines.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said the department did not foresee any major impact on commercial flights from the activation.

According to Kirby, these planes will not go to the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. They will be used to move passengers from bus stations once they leave Kabul, allowing the US military to focus on the Afghan part of the evacuation.

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MORE ON THE CRISIS IN AFGHANISTAN:

– British military: 7 Afghans killed in chaos at Kabul airport

– China both worries and hopes US leaves Afghanistan

– Europe fears Afghan refugee crisis after Taliban takeover

– AP PHOTOS: Two decades of war and daily life in Afghanistan

– Biden promises to evacuate all Americans – and Afghan helpers

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– Find more AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/afghanistan

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS:

THE HAGUE, Netherlands – The Dutch military is sending additional troops to Kabul to reinforce 62 troops already in the Afghan capital to help secure evacuation efforts and protect the country’s consular team.

The ministry said on Sunday that the additional forces were already on their way to Afghanistan. He did not specify how many soldiers make up the new deployment.

Another Marine Company and Parachute Company are also available for deployment.

Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag tweeted earlier on Sunday that she had spoken to her British counterpart Dominic Raab about the cooperation of the two countries’ military forces in Kabul.

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LONDON – Britain’s Defense Ministry said the country’s armed forces have evacuated nearly 4,000 people from Afghanistan since August 13.

Although he did not provide further details, it is clear that the majority of those evacuated by British troops are Afghans who have helped Britain for the past 20 years.

In addition to the roughly 4,000 British citizens, there are said to be around 5,000 Afghan allies, such as translators and drivers, who would be booked for a seat on an airplane. On Wednesday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Britain had succeeded in removing more than 2,000 Afghans and around 300 British citizens.

“Our armed forces continue to work tirelessly at Kabul airport to ensure the safe evacuation of British nationals and Afghan civilians,” the ministry said in a statement on Twitter.

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KYIV, Ukraine – A Ukrainian military plane evacuated 83 other people from Kabul on Sunday, according to the Ukrainian foreign minister.

Dmytro Kuleba tweeted that the plane brought 31 Ukrainians back to Kiev, as well as “foreigners – Afghan women and children, human rights activists, journalists working with Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today.

“They are safe in Kiev,” Kuleba said in the tweet. “We are not abandoning our people and helping others,” he said, adding that the Ukrainian authorities were working on “further evacuations”. Last week, a Ukrainian plane evacuated some 80 people out of Kabul.

Thousands of people in Afghanistan have sought ways to leave the country after the Taliban took control of Kabul in a rapid takeover, seeking to escape what they see as the return of a fundamentalist regime ruthless.

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BERLIN – The US military claims an Afghan woman gave birth aboard an Air Force C-17 that flew from the Middle East to Ramstein Air Base in Germany. The base is used as a staging post for evacuees from Afghanistan.

Army Air Mobility Command tweeted that the mother started having complications during the flight on Saturday. He says, “The aircraft commander decided to descend to altitude to increase the air pressure in the aircraft, which helped stabilize and save the mother’s life.”

Upon arrival in Ramstein, American medical personnel boarded and dropped the child into the hold of the aircraft. “The baby girl and mother have been taken to a nearby medical center and are in good condition,” the military said.

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THE HAGUE, Netherlands – The Dutch government donates 10 million euros to fund aid such as food, clean water and medical supplies for Afghans.

The Foreign Ministry said on Sunday that the money will go to the Afghanistan Humanitarian Fund which can be used by United Nations organizations and NGOs working in Afghanistan.

Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Minister Tom De Bruijn said “we want to support the Afghan people in these difficult circumstances”.

At the same time, the Dutch Defense Ministry said a plane it had chartered arrived in the Netherlands on Sunday carrying 160 passengers from Afghanistan. He did not disclose the nationality of the evacuees.

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MADRID – The Spanish government has said US President Joe Biden and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez have agreed that the Rota and Morón military bases in Spain used by US forces will temporarily host Afghans who worked for the Americans and fear reprisals of the Taliban.

A Spanish plane carrying 64 people working for the United States landed on Saturday evening at the Spanish air base in Torrejón, near Madrid.

In addition, Spain this week received 230 more evacuees from Kabul, mostly Afghans who worked for Spain and for the European Union. Fifty-five of these evacuees have already flown to other EU countries.

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LONDON – Tony Blair, British Prime Minister who deployed troops to Afghanistan 20 years after the 9/11 attacks, said the US decision to leave had “applauded all jihadist groups around the world” .

In a lengthy essay posted on his website on Saturday night, Blair said the decision to withdraw his troops was “tragic, dangerous, unnecessary.” He added that Britain has a “moral obligation” to stay until “all those who need to be evacuated”.

He said the exit was not in the interests of the West or Afghanistan, with the Taliban reasserting itself across much of the country.

He also warned that the United States’ decision to keep Britain in the dark about the withdrawal risked relegating the country to “the second division of world powers.”

Blair accused US President Joe Biden of making the decision on the back of a “foolish political slogan on ending ‘eternal wars'”.

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KABUL, Afghanistan – The British military says seven Afghan civilians were killed in crowds near Kabul International Airport amid the chaos of those fleeing the Taliban takeover.

The Defense Ministry said in a statement on Sunday that “conditions on the ground remain extremely difficult, but we are doing everything possible to handle the situation in the safest and most secure manner possible.”

The airport has been the focal point for thousands of people trying to flee the Taliban, who invaded Kabul a week ago after their lightning strike took hold of the country.

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ISLAMABAD – Pakistan International Airlines spokesman said the airline has suspended flights from Kabul and is not evacuating anyone at the moment.

Abdullah Hafeez Khan said on Sunday the airline had no ground arrangements and lacked proper facilities at Kabul International Airport to conduct evacuation flights.

Khan said the suspension is temporary and the airline will resume operations once the necessary arrangements are made there.

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NEW DELHI – An Indian official said an Air Force transport plane left Kabul for New Delhi with 168 people on board.

Foreign ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said the plane took off from Kabul on Sunday morning and the passengers included 107 Indian nationals. He did not give the nationalities of 61 other evacuees from the Afghan capital.

Meanwhile, another group of 87 Indians who were evacuated from Kabul to Tajikistan on Saturday aboard an Indian Air Force plane is flying to New Delhi on Sunday, Bagchi said in a tweet. Two Nepalese nationals were also evacuated on this flight.

India began evacuating its nationals last Sunday after the Taliban invaded Kabul.

The Press Trust of India news agency said around 400 Indians are believed to be stranded in Afghanistan. No official figure was available.

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