Afghan pilots fly out of Tajikistan on US-brokered flight


U.S.-trained Afghan pilots and other personnel boarded a U.S.-brokered flight out of Tajikistan on Tuesday, ending a nearly three-month detention ordeal that began when they escaped there in their aircraft during the Taliban takeover, Afghan sources said.

The plight of the pilots had attracted U.S. congressional scrutiny – with lawmakers and military veterans frustrated by what they believed was a sluggish U.S. relocation effort.

One pilot shared images of the group boarding the aircraft, saying it was destined for the United Arab Emirates. Flight-tracking data showed it had left the country.

“It’s a relief,” said David Hicks, a retired U.S. brigadier general who is helping lead a charity called Operation Sacred Promise working to evacuate and resettle Afghan air force personnel.

The Afghan personnel in Tajikistan represented the last major group of U.S.-trained pilots who fled abroad and were still known to be in limbo.

The group of evacuees included a U.S.-trained Afghan pilot at an advanced stage of pregnancy, who had expressed fear for her unborn baby in an interview with Reuters.

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