Afghan Pilots Take Flight For UAE Amid Taliban Pressure, Says Report

Washington: Afghan pilots trained by the US and other personnel staying in an Uzbek camp for almost a month started leaving the country on Sunday, a pilot was quoted as saying by news agency Reuters.

This was under a US deal that came despite Taliban demands for the Afghans and their aircraft’s return.

According to the pilot who wished to remain anonymous, the first group is at least initially heading to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The transfer was likely to happen in several waves, beginning on Sunday and ending the next day or so.

Reuters reported that the pilots have started leaving Uzbekistan. There was no comment offered by the US State Department and Uzbekistan’s mission to the United Nations in New York.

According to the agency, the current and former US officials said that the Taliban pressured Uzbekistan to hand over the aircraft and personnel.

A former US ambassador to Uzbekistan, John Herbst praised the US evacuation effort, saying the United States owed it to the Afghan pilots.

“I hope we have plans underway to make sure the aircraft they got out get back to the United States and certainly do not return to the Taliban,” Herbst was quoted as saying by the agency.

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