- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 9, 2021

The first commercial flight to leave Afghanistan since the full U.S. withdrawal from the country landed safely in Qatar on Thursday, the White House announced.

A U.S. government official said Thursday evening that “we can confirm that, of the 39 we invited, 10 U.S. citizens and 11 Lawful Permanent Residents were on-board the Qatar Airways charter flight out of Kabul today.”

White House officials had earlier declined to specify a number but said U.S. citizens and Afghan allies were on the plane.

Multiple media outlets reported the flight was carrying nearly 200 people, but White House press secretary Jen Psaki declined to confirm the exact number.

“We have been working intensely across the U.S. government to ensure the accuracy of the manifest and the safe departure and transit of the aircraft, and today’s safe flight is the result of careful and hard diplomacy and engagement,” U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said in a statement.

The flight, operated by Qatar Airways, landed at Doha’s Hamad International Airport, making it the first successful flight out of Afghanistan since the U.S. ended its chaotic airlift last month.

The Boeing 777 that the airline flew can carry more than 300 people in ordinary commercial use.

Both the U.S. and Qatar thanked the Taliban for its “cooperation” in resuming flights out of Afghanistan.

Sheikh Mohammad bin Abdulrahaman Al-Than said in a statement that the Taliban’s “positive statements” were demonstrated by actions.

Ms. Horne also expressed gratitude for the Taliban’s cooperation.

“The Taliban have been cooperative in facilitating the departure of American citizens and lawful permanent residents on charter flights,” she said. “They have shown flexibility, and they have been businesslike and professional in our dealings with them in this effort. This is a positive first step.”

Additional flights are expected over the next few days.

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