By KATHY GANNON
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Dozens of foreigners, including Americans, boarded a commercial flight at Kabul airport on Thursday in the first large-scale evacuation since U.S and NATO forces withdrew from Afghanistan at the end of last month.
The departure of some 200 Westerners on a Qatar Airways flight to Doha marked a significant breakthrough in the bumpy coordination between the U.S. and Afghanistan’s new Taliban rulers.
The Taliban have promised to allow foreigners and Afghans with valid travel documents to leave, but a days-long standoff over charter planes at another airport had cast some doubt on Taliban assurances.
Earlier in the day as the group prepared to board, Qatari special envoy Mutlaq bin Majed al-Qahtani declared it a “historic day.”
“Call it what you want, a charter or a commercial flight, everyone has tickets and boarding passes,” al-Qahtani said from the Kabul airport tarmac, adding that another commercial flight would take off on Friday. “Hopefully, life is becoming normal in Afghanistan.”