Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says two Canadian military aircraft are set to resume “flying regularly” into Kabul as part of the international effort to evacuate civilians and citizens fleeing the Taliban takeover.
Global News has confirmed the development comes after Canada and the U.S. reached a deal to allow Canadian aircraft to begin flying into and out of Kabul. But there are no details yet on when the flights will begin arriving in Kabul or returning home.
“Canadian Armed Forces flights to and from Hamid Karzai International Airport will resume shortly under Op AEGIS,” tweeted Sajjan, who is running for re-election as the Liberal MP for Vancouver South, on Wednesday evening.
Operation Aegis is the military’s contribution to the evacuation effort.
He said two CC-177 Globemasters have been assigned and will be “flying regularly” into Kabul.
Jessica Lamirande, spokesperson for the department, said the flights will continue “as long as the security situation on the ground permits, and will focus on evacuating Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and Afghan Nationals who have an enduring relationship with Canada’s mission in Afghanistan.”
“We are committed to this important mission, and can assure Canadians that we are doing everything we can to assist,” she said in an email.
The Globemaster aircraft is billed by the military as a “premier transporter for military, humanitarian and peacekeeping missions.” It can carry a maximum weight of 265,350 kilograms.
That’s equivalent to 102 paratroopers or three H-146 Griffon helicopters with refueling tanks, according to the Royal Canadian Air Force website.
U.S. forces were forced to pause evacuations from the country after thousands of people desperate to flee the country crowded Kabul’s airport Monday.
Images of the incident showed several people clinging to jets which were set to take off from Kabul’s international airport — some so desperate to escape the Taliban that they had plunged to their deaths in an attempt to hold onto an American military plane as it took off.
In a CAF statement to Reuters Tuesday evening, Canada was set to resume evacuation flights to Afghanistan after the United States regained control of the Kabul’s airport.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made it clear that Canada had “no plans” to recognize the Taliban as the country’s official government after its week-long blitz to recapture Afghanistan’s provinces, and eventually its capital.
“(The Taliban) have taken over and replaced a duly elected democratic government by force… They are a recognized terrorist organization under Canadian law,” said Trudeau, who also added then that he has not ruled out the use of military resources to evacuate Afghans from the country.
— With files from David Lao