More than 140 Afghan Air Force pilots and crew have been evacuated to the UAE 3 months after they arrived in Tajikistan to escape the Taliban.
The New York Times reported that the plane carrying pilots and crew members left Tajikistan on Tuesday with the help of US authorities.
The newspaper was quoted in a report She told Brigadier General David Hicks, a retired US Air Force officer and chief executive of this operation – which was called “Operation Sacred Promise” – as saying that the flight to the UAE ended a 3-month ordeal for military personnel trained by the United States and transported planes – previously supplied by America to Afghanistan. – to Tajikistan to escape from the Taliban; They end up in custody.
Hicks, who leads a volunteer group that has helped Afghans, said it is a huge relief to the whole group when they know they have come out of this period of uncertainty and take the first step to start their new life. “I hope they will all be reunited with their families soon.”
Afghans said they depended on the US government for their freedom after they were detained by Tajik authorities after the Taliban seized power in their homeland and fled in fear of reprisals.
In WhatsApp audio recordings made on smuggled cellphones, the English-speaking pilots described poor conditions, inadequate food rations and limited medical care at the site, where they were being held outside the capital, Dushanbe.
Thousands are still in Afghanistan
The report indicated that several thousand Afghan Air Force pilots and crew members are still hiding in Afghanistan, where some said they feel abandoned by the US military – their long-time combat ally – and say they are desperate to leave Afghanistan, and that they and their families are in danger of being chased. and killing by the Taliban.
In telephone interviews from safe homes in Afghanistan – the report adds – many Afghan Air Force pilots said they moved house to house to avoid detection, and said they ran out of money and did not dare to look for work because they feared “militants” would discover them.
The Taliban said there was a general amnesty for any Afghan who served in the previous government or worked with the US government or the military, but several Afghan Air Force pilots have been killed by the Taliban this year.
General Hicks said the flight that left Tajikistan was arranged by the US State Department, which also helped evacuate a separate group of Afghan pilots and crew members who flew to Uzbekistan last September and were transferred to a US military base in the UAE. The Taliban pressured Uzbekistan to return pilots and crew members to Afghanistan.
8 billion dollars
It is noteworthy that many Afghan pilots were trained in America to fly military planes and helicopters provided by the United States, which has spent more than 8 billion dollars to train and equip the Afghan Air Force.
Since mid-August, Hicks said, “Operation Holy Promise” has helped evacuate some 350 Afghans. He said the group has screened about 2,000 Afghan Air Force personnel and their relatives trying to leave Afghanistan, and about 8,000 others are still being screened.
The status of Afghan Air Force planes transferred to Tajikistan and Uzbekistan remains unclear.
During the collapse of the previous Afghan government, about 25% of the Afghan Air Force aircraft were transferred to Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, according to an October 31 report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. Hicks estimated the number from 56 to 60 aircraft.
The US forces deliberately disabled 80 aircraft at Kabul airport and took them out of service permanently in late August.