Some 150 Afghan dual nationals left Afghanistan for the US on a Qatar Airways flight on Thursday.
The plane departed from Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport and will first head to Qatar’s capital Doha, according to Abdul Hadi Hamdarda, a Taliban official at the airport.
Only passengers with foreign passports and valid travel documents were allowed to board the flight, he told Anadolu Agency.
A Qatari official present at the airport said 150 people were on the plane, including some with US and Canadian passports.
This was the first such flight to leave Kabul since foreign countries, including the US, concluded the evacuation missions launched after the Taliban completed their takeover on Aug. 15.
Some Afghans who were seen waiting near the runway with their bags were, however, not allowed to board the flight.
Nazish and her sister, who traveled from the northern Kunduz province, were among those turned back for not having valid travel documents.
“We were hoping for a new chance at life in the US,” said Nazish, visibly dejected by the setback.
Arriving at the airport early on Thursday morning, three young men – two from the central Uruzgan province and one from Kunduz in the north – told Anadolu Agency that they were due to board a flight heading to the US.
Ezzda, who hailed from Kunduz, said he worked with an American company and showed his official credentials, which he said made him eligible for relocation to the US.
Nasrullah and Samiullah, two brothers, also had documents proving they worked as interpreters for the US.
It was unclear whether the three were among the people who boarded the US-bound flight.
Since the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan, Kabul has been swarmed by people seeking a way out of the country, many of them civilians who worked with foreign forces or groups and now fear retribution.
The Taliban, however, have repeatedly tried to assure Afghans that they have nothing fear.
They say those fleeing the country are economic migrants and have urged people to stay and help rebuild Afghanistan.
Kabul flight operations
National flag carrier Ariana Afghan Airlines resumed domestic operations last week and is aiming to restart international flights by next week.
The Kabul airport remained closed for days after the US completed its withdrawal on Aug. 31.
Afghan officials said the departing US forces had severely damaged terminals, workshops, hangars, offices, and planes of Ariana Afghan Airlines.
“The Qatari and Turkish technical teams have helped us resume flight operations,” Qari Rahmatullah Gulzad, the person appointed to head the airlines after the Taliban takeover, told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday.
He said the Qatari and Turkish teams would continue working on the Kabul airport for another month to bring it up to international standards, thanking the countries for their prompt and invaluable support.
He said domestic flights from Kabul to Herat, Kandahar, and Mazar-e-Sharif resumed on Sept. 4, with negotiations now underway to restart international flights between Kabul and New Delhi.
International flights to New Delhi should start in the coming two to three days, Gulzad said, adding that the next aim was to resume flights to Turkey, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia.