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Taliban Reportedly Refusing to Let Planes with Americans Take Off at Northern Afghanistan Airport

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Members of the Taliban Special Forces enter the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, September 5, 2021. (West Asia News Agency/Reuters)

The Taliban are refusing to allow flights to leave with evacuees from the Mazar-i-Sharif Airport in northern Afghanistan, including Americans and green-card holders, according to reports and an NGO with staff waiting to fly out.

The State Department sent an email to members of Congress saying that several charter flights are cleared to fly from Mazar-i-Sharif to Doha, Qatar, “if and when the Taliban agrees to takeoff,” CBS News reported. State Department sources told CBS that American citizens and permanent residents are among those prevented from flying out.

Those sources said that the Taliban’s refusal to allow the flights to take off did not resemble a hostage situation. However, the situation on the ground is a “bad scene,” Marina LeGree,
executive director of the NGO Ascend, which teaches young women leadership skills through mountaineering, told National Review in emailed comments.

According to LeGree, there were initially 600 people from various groups trying to leave via Mazar-i-Sharif, but that number has ballooned to 1,200 to 1,300 passengers. There are about 30 Ascend staff, participants, and some family members trying to leave via the airport, including two U.S. green-card holders.

“We know of 19 others in the larger group that have [American] citizenship,” LeGree says.

“I can tell you that our people are stuck in a dangerous situation,” Legree adds. “No one is putting a gun to their heads and locking them in a room, but they have traveled from Kabul. They . . . cannot feasibly travel back safely,” and the Taliban are not allowing planes to take off.

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