Dozens of US military transport jets were expected to land at Kabul’s international airport on Monday, as about 20,000 people remained at the facility awaiting evacuation, a source close to the situation told CNN.
Plans called for 33 US Air Force C-17s to head to Hamid Karzai International Airport in the next 24 hours, said the source. Each of the large four-engine jets has the ability to take 400 passengers out of Kabul, “which should make a decent dent” in the 20,000 people who are on the airport grounds and trying to get out of Afghanistan after the Taliban took control of most of the country last week, the source said.
But the source said Washington was changing its policy on who would be admitted into the airport and, from Monday on, only American citizens and green card holders and citizens of NATO countries would be allowed past the airport’s gates.
Applicants for the US’ Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program, which is an avenue for Afghans who worked for US government forces and agencies to get out of the country, would not be allowed into the airport, the source said.
They said the Taliban were now helping filter candidates seeking to enter the airport, by checking their documentation. Only immediate family members such as spouses and children can be brought onto the base by eligible US or NATO citizens.
Even with the new restrictions, thousands of Afghans, mostly military aged males with “no documentation,” remained on the airport grounds, the source said. They had arrived on the second day during the “everyone gets in” lapse in filtering entrants.
The source said there were “no plans to kick people off the airport,” potentially leaving thousands in limbo.
Photo: A handout photo made available by the U.S. Central Command Public Affairs via DVIDS shows A Marine assigned to the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit carries a girl at a gate to Hamid Karzai International Airport, in Kabul, Afghanistan. EPA-EFE/U.S. Marine Corps
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