Exclusive-Detained Afghan pilots fly out of Tajikistan on U.S.-brokered flight By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A pregnant U.S.-trained Afghan pilot, who’s being held in Tajikistan, requested that her face and title be hid because of safety considerations, poses for a photograph on October 5, 2021. REUTERS/File Picture


By Phil Stewart

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S.-trained Afghan pilots and different personnel boarded a U.S.-brokered flight out of Tajikistan on Tuesday, ending an almost three-month detention ordeal that started after they escaped there of their plane in the course of the Taliban takeover, Afghan sources stated.

The plight of the pilots had attracted U.S. congressional scrutiny – with lawmakers and army veterans annoyed by what they believed was a sluggish U.S. relocation effort.

One pilot shared photos of the group boarding the plane, saying it was destined for the United Arab Emirates. Flight-tracking knowledge confirmed it had left the nation.

“It is a aid,” stated David Hicks, a retired U.S. brigadier normal who helps lead a charity referred to as Operation Sacred Promise working to evacuate and resettle Afghan air power personnel.

The Afghan personnel in Tajikistan represented the final main group of U.S.-trained pilots who fled overseas and have been nonetheless recognized to be in limbo.

The group of evacuees included a U.S.-trained Afghan pilot at a sophisticated stage of being pregnant, who had expressed concern for her unborn child in an interview with Reuters

The group flew to Tajikistan in army plane on the finish of the struggle, was detained by Tajik authorities and had been awaiting a U.S. relocation – hoping the switch to the Center East will result in eventual U.S. resettlement.

Reuters detailed accounts from the pregnant pilot and different members of the group about their frustrations with their detention, and was first to report U.S. plans to relocate them

The Pentagon estimated that the anticipated group of evacuees totaled about 191 – bigger than the greater than 150 Afghans beforehand recognized to be at two websites in Tajikistan. It didn’t clarify the figures.

Afghan air power personnel flew dozens of army plane to Tajikistan and to Uzbekistan in August because the Taliban swept to energy.

In September, a U.S.-brokered deal allowed a bigger group of Afghan pilots and different army personnel to be flown out of Uzbekistan to the United Arab Emirates.

Even earlier than the Taliban’s takeover, the U.S.-trained, English-speaking pilots had turn out to be prime targets of the Taliban due to the harm they inflicted in the course of the struggle. The Taliban tracked down the pilots and assassinated them off-base

Afghanistan’s new rulers have stated they are going to invite former army personnel to hitch the revamped safety forces and that they are going to come to no hurt. However pilots who spoke with Reuters say they consider they are going to be killed in the event that they return to Afghanistan.


Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin instructed a congressional listening to in September he was involved in regards to the pilots in Tajikistan and would work with the State Division to “see if we will transfer this ahead.”

However the means of relocating the Afghans from Tajikistan proved to be extra time-consuming and sophisticated than the same effort in Uzbekistan.

A U.S. official instructed Reuters that america confronted problem securing Tajik authorization to entry the pilots.

Republican U.S. Consultant Austin Scott, who raised the case of the pregnant pilot in a listening to, expressed aid that the Afghan air power personnel “are now not stranded in Tajikistan.”

“I wish to thank everybody who made this launch doable for his or her help, particularly officers from the Protection Division,” Scott stated.

Many of the Afghan pilots and different personnel have been held at a sanatorium in Tajikistan. These in that group who communicated with Reuters did so on cellphones saved hidden from guards and stated the Tajik authorities took away their id paperwork.

The pregnant pilot, who’s 29, had voiced considerations to Reuters about dangers to her and her unborn little one on the distant sanatorium. She was subsequently moved to a maternity hospital earlier than being transferred again to the sanatorium forward of her departure.

“We’re like prisoners right here. Not even like refugees, not even like immigrants. Now we have no authorized paperwork or method to purchase one thing for ourselves,” she stated final month.

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