Canada resuming evacuation flights to Afghanistan as U.S. regains control of Kabul airport

Click to play video: 'Afghan refugees board bus after arriving in Canada from Kabul'
Afghan refugees board bus after arriving in Canada from Kabul
WATCH: Afghan refugees board bus after arriving in Canada from Kabul – Aug 17, 2021

Canada plans to resume military flights to Afghanistan to evacuate civilians as the United States regains control of the Kabul airport, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) said late on Tuesday.

“CAF flights will support ongoing operations and will evacuate as many Afghans, who are at risk due to their close and enduring relationship with Canada, as possible,” a CAF spokeswoman said in an emailed statement to Reuters.

U.S. forces had to pause all evacuations after thousands of people desperate to flee Afghanistan thronged Kabul’s airport on Monday, after the Taliban fighters streamed into the capital unopposed.

The airport runway and tarmac are now clear of crowds and military flights evacuating diplomats and civilians from Afghanistan started taking off on Tuesday morning, a Western security official at Kabul airport told Reuters.

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Chartered flights carrying fleeing Afghans have arrived in Canada from Monday evening and additional flights will be sent starting Tuesday night, according to the statement.

“We are working in close coordination with our U.S and Allied partners on plans to resume evacuation flights out of Afghanistan as soon as possible,” CAF said.

Ten flights have returned to Canada as of Tuesday carrying staff from the Canadian embassy along with Afghan refugees, their families and Canadian citizens.

Click to play video: 'Kabul chaos continues as thousands try to escape Afghanistan'
Kabul chaos continues as thousands try to escape Afghanistan

The latest plane to arrive, which carried 92 people, left Afghanistan a few days ago and arrived via a third country, said Alexander Cohen, spokesman for Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino.

Liberals arranged for reporters travelling with Trudeau’s campaign to view the passengers being processed in tents on the tarmac after getting off an Air Transat plane at Toronto’s Pearson airport.

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Until now, the government has been very secretive about the arrival of refugees in a bid to protect them and the security of the evacuation operation. That reporters were allowed to view their arrival Tuesday — under strict orders not to reveal identities or photograph faces — likely reflects the heat Trudeau is feeling for calling an election in the midst of the escalating crisis in Afghanistan.

Earlier Tuesday, Trudeau revealed on the campaign trail that all Canadian diplomats have left Afghanistan.

–With files from Global News and the Canadian Press

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