Germany sends helicopters to Kabul for evacuations
The German army will also operate outside the territory of Kabul International Airport to get people out of Afghanistan as quickly as possible. The operation will be carried out in consultation with the Americans.
Many Western countries have been trying to get their citizens and Afghans out of the Central Asian country all week now that the radical Islamist Taliban movement has seized power there. But the evacuations taking place at Hamid Karzai International Airport are very difficult.
Since Western armies operate only at the airport itself, passengers must make their way there themselves, through Taliban checkpoints. Several countries, including Belgium, have already had to take off from Kabul with empty cargo planes because people are unable to get to the airport.
So the German army will now operate outside the airport grounds. Two Airbus H145M helicopters took off on Friday from Funsdorf, Germany. Meanwhile, they landed in the Afghan capital, the German military reported on Twitter Saturday morning.
The plane will attempt to bring people who do not arrive at the airport to safety. It concerns a German special forces operation, at the request of the United States.
The Americans also have helicopters on site in Kabul, but they are too large to land in densely populated urban areas. German helicopters will always accompany an American plane.
The Americans themselves are already using military helicopters to evacuate people who cannot reach the airport. The Pentagon confirmed Friday night to the Associated Press that at least 169 Americans have been removed from the Afghan capital in this way. A further 96 Afghanis are said to have picked up a helicopter outside the perimeter of the airport.
At the moment, Belgium does not intend to operate outside the Kabul airport terminals. “Belgian defense does not have the capacity to do so,” Federal Prime Minister Alexandre de Croo (Open VLD) said earlier. It was not clear whether German and American helicopters would evacuate other Europeans from the Afghan capital.
“Travel enthusiast. Alcohol lover. Friendly entrepreneur. Coffeeaholic. Award-winning writer.”