Updated Sep 9, 2021 - World

Around 200 foreigners leave Afghanistan on commercial flight to Qatar

A Qatar Airways aircraft taking off from the airport in Kabul on Sept.  9.

A Qatar Airways aircraft taking off from the airport in Kabul on Sept. 9. Photo: Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images

Around 200 foreigners, including several Americans, left Afghanistan Thursday on a flight from Kabul to Doha, Qatar, according to the AP and the Washington Post.

Why it matters: The Qatar Airways flight was the first mass evacuation of Americans, green card holders and people of other nationalities since the U.S. airlift operation concluded at the end of August.

  • The flight also marked a breakthrough between the U.S. and the Taliban, which have struggled to coordinate flights out of the country for foreigners and Afghans with proper travel documents.
  • People who were given permission to leave also included passport holders from the U.K., Italy, the Netherlands, Ukraine, Canada and Germany, according to the Washington Post.

What they're saying: White House spokeswoman Emily Horne confirmed the flight and said that "the Taliban have been cooperative in facilitating the departure of American citizens and lawful permanent residents on charter flights from HKIA."

  • "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," Horne said.

The big picture: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on the Taliban this week to allow charter flights to leave Afghanistan and said the U.S. is working with the group to extract U.S. citizens and at-risk allies who were left behind after the airlift operation ended.

  • The Taliban has been preventing chartered evacuation flights from leaving Mazar-e-Sharif's airport in northern Afghanistan. Blinken said this week that those flights were delayed because some aboard lacked valid travel documents.

Go deeper: Afghanistan feeds U.S. immigration crisis

Editor's note: This post has been updated with new details throughout.

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