US-trained Afghan pilots who escaped to Tajikistan board a US-brokered flight out of the country on Tuesday. Reuters
The Afghans had spent a full day waiting at the airport in the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, for a flight that appeared to have been delayed. They were hoping it would not be canceled and they would depart before the end of the day.
"We hope to go out soon," one of the Afghans told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The US embassy in Dushanbe could not be immediately reached for comment.
The plight of the Afghan pilots — including one who is at a very advanced stage of her pregnancy — became a focus of US lawmakers and military veterans, who grew frustrated by what they believed was a sluggish US relocation effort.
A pregnant US-trained Afghan pilot, who is being held in Tajikistan, poses for a photo on October 5. Reuters
They arrived in Tajikistan with advanced military aircraft at the end of the war, were detained by Tajik authorities and have been awaiting a US relocation ever since — hoping to move to a third country for eventual US resettlement.
Reuters exclusively detailed first hand accounts from the pregnant pilot and other members of the group about their frustrations with their detention, and was first to report US plans to relocate them.
Afghan Air Force personnel flew dozens of advanced military aircraft to Tajikistan and to Uzbekistan in August as the Taliban swept to power.
Afghan pilots, who escaped to Tajikistan at the end of the war, end a nearly three-month detention. Reuters
The Afghan personnel in Tajikistan represent the last major group of US-trained pilots who fled abroad and are still known to be in limbo.
In September, a US-brokered deal allowed a larger group of Afghan pilots and other military personnel to be flown out of Uzbekistan to the United Arab Emirates.
Even before the Taliban's takeover, the US-trained, English-speaking pilots had become prime targets of the Taliban because of the damage they inflicted during the war. The Taliban tracked down the pilots and assassinated them off-base, according to Reuters.
Afghanistan's new rulers have said they will invite former military personnel to join the revamped security forces and that they will come to no harm. But pilots who spoke with Reuters say they believe they will be killed if they return to Afghanistan.
Stakes are high for the talks which follow a week of US-Taliban negotiations with both sides eyeing a resolution to the bloody 18-year conflict.
The Taliban have steadfastly refused to discuss peace with Ghani, whom they consider a US stooge heading an illegitimate regime.
Their meeting came during a marathon multi-country tour by Khalilzad, who is to visit Qatar — the usual venue for talks with the Taliban.
This achievement is one in a series of successes that underscore the mosque's position as a prominent cultural landmark on the global tourism map which stands out among the world's places of worship and cultural and tourist attractions.
President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan has sent a message of condolences to Jordanian King Abdullah II bin Al Hussein for the victims of the toxic gas leak at the Aqaba port.
The state-owned Tehran Times posted a photograph of Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Bagheri Kani, in a hotel lobby with Iranian Ambassador to Qatar Hamidreza Dehghani.
"Every day, women lead and make vital contributions to diplomatic efforts across the globe," said Lana Nusseibeh, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for Political Affairs and Permanent Representative of the UAE to the UN.