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Canadian military flight evacuates 500 people from Kabul as Taliban hardens deadline

Click to play video: 'Afghanistan crisis: G7 nations grapple with unfolding chaos'
Afghanistan crisis: G7 nations grapple with unfolding chaos
WATCH: G7 nations grapple with unfolding chaos – Aug 24, 2021

A Canadian military flight has evacuated more than 500 people from Kabul as the Taliban harden the deadline for the international air bridge operating out of the airport.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said in a tweet on Tuesday that more than 500 people were on board a Canadian military aircraft that flew out of the embattled capital city on Monday night.

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That appears to mark the most people on board a Canadian evacuation flight since they resumed on Aug. 19 following questions of why military aircraft were departing with less than half the number of evacuees as American flights using the same aircraft model.

Global News has learned that of the passengers, more than 200 of them were children.

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It’s not clear though how many of those on board are destined for Canada or are Canadian citizens.

Click to play video: 'Trudeau says Canada working ‘incredibly hard’ to evacuate people from Afghanistan amid election campaign'
Trudeau says Canada working ‘incredibly hard’ to evacuate people from Afghanistan amid election campaign

Canadian military evacuation flights are bringing out Canadian citizens, foreign nationals and Afghans approved for special immigration measures by both Canada and other allied countries.

According to the Department of National Defence, Canada’s five flights since Aug. 19 have evacuated a total of 1,355 people from the Kabul airport.

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A flight on Aug. 19 carried 175 Afghans accepted by other countries for immigration and 13 foreign nationals. On Aug. 20, a flight left Kabul with 106 people destined for Canada including Afghan nationals, Canadian citizens and their families and a permanent resident, as well as an unclear number of allied military personnel.

The Aug. 21 flight carried 121 people including Canadians, Afghans destined for Canada, Afghans destined for other countries, and an unclear number of allied military personnel.

On Aug 22, there were 436 people including Canadians, Afghans bound for Canada and Afghans heading for resettlement in allied countries.

The latest flight on Monday carried 505 people including Canadians, Afghans bound for Canada and Afghans heading for resettlement in allied countries.

Twelve other countries are participating in the air bridge evacuation effort, which is set to wrap up on Aug. 31 as the Taliban warns it will not accept any continued presence of U.S. troops after that point.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is campaigning for re-election and is leader of the Liberal Party, faced questions on Tuesday ahead of a G7 virtual leaders’ meeting about whether he would push U.S. President Joe Biden to extend that deadline.

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He did not give a clear answer.

“We are all committed to doing everything we can to save as many people as possible as quickly as possible,” he said.

“Obviously, the conversations will continue with with our allies, allies, including around the G7 call this morning. I’m looking forward to talking about what more we can do and whether and how we can make sure we’re protecting as many people as possible. I look forward to that discussion.”

Already, the security situation on the ground has been described by senior Canadian government officials as “volatile” and “chaotic,” and Canadian military special operations forces are operating beyond the airport perimeter in the “increasingly dangerous” environment.

The first of the evacuees brought to Canada completed their two-week COVID-19 quarantine last week.

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