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Afghan Pilots Fly Out of Tajikistan on US-Brokered Flight

U.S.-trained Afghan pilots and other personnel boarded a U.S.-brokered flight out of Tajikistan on Tuesday, ending a nearly three-month detention ordeal that began when they escaped there in their aircraft during the Taliban takeover, Afghan sources said.

The plight of the pilots had attracted U.S. congressional scrutiny - with lawmakers and military veterans frustrated by what they believed was a sluggish U.S. relocation effort.

One pilot shared images of the group boarding the aircraft, saying it was destined for the United Arab Emirates. Flight-tracking data showed it had left the country.

"It's a relief," said David Hicks, a retired U.S. brigadier general who is helping lead a charity called Operation Sacred Promise working to evacuate and resettle Afghan air force personnel.

The Afghan personnel in Tajikistan represented the last major group of U.S.-trained pilots who fled abroad and were still known to be in limbo.

The group of evacuees included a U.S.-trained Afghan pilot at an advanced stage of pregnancy, who had expressed fear for her unborn baby in an interview with Reuters.

The group flew to Tajikistan in military aircraft at the end of the war, was detained by Tajik authorities and had been awaiting a U.S. relocation - hoping the transfer to the Middle East will lead to eventual U.S. resettlement.

Reuters detailed accounts from the pregnant pilot and other members of the group about their frustrations with their detention, and was first to report U.S. plans to relocate them.

The Pentagon estimated that the expected group of evacuees totaled about 191 - larger than the more than 150 Afghans previously known to be at two sites in Tajikistan. It did not explain the figures.

Afghan air force personnel flew dozens of military aircraft to Tajikistan and to Uzbekistan in August as the Taliban swept to power.

In September, a U.S.-brokered deal allowed a larger group of Afghan pilots and other military personnel to be flown out of Uzbekistan to the United Arab Emirates

Afghan Pilots Fly Out of Tajikistan on US-Brokered Flight

One pilot shared images of the group boarding the aircraft, saying it was destined for the United Arab Emirates.

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U.S.-trained Afghan pilots and other personnel boarded a U.S.-brokered flight out of Tajikistan on Tuesday, ending a nearly three-month detention ordeal that began when they escaped there in their aircraft during the Taliban takeover, Afghan sources said.

The plight of the pilots had attracted U.S. congressional scrutiny - with lawmakers and military veterans frustrated by what they believed was a sluggish U.S. relocation effort.

One pilot shared images of the group boarding the aircraft, saying it was destined for the United Arab Emirates. Flight-tracking data showed it had left the country.

"It's a relief," said David Hicks, a retired U.S. brigadier general who is helping lead a charity called Operation Sacred Promise working to evacuate and resettle Afghan air force personnel.

The Afghan personnel in Tajikistan represented the last major group of U.S.-trained pilots who fled abroad and were still known to be in limbo.

The group of evacuees included a U.S.-trained Afghan pilot at an advanced stage of pregnancy, who had expressed fear for her unborn baby in an interview with Reuters.

The group flew to Tajikistan in military aircraft at the end of the war, was detained by Tajik authorities and had been awaiting a U.S. relocation - hoping the transfer to the Middle East will lead to eventual U.S. resettlement.

Reuters detailed accounts from the pregnant pilot and other members of the group about their frustrations with their detention, and was first to report U.S. plans to relocate them.

The Pentagon estimated that the expected group of evacuees totaled about 191 - larger than the more than 150 Afghans previously known to be at two sites in Tajikistan. It did not explain the figures.

Afghan air force personnel flew dozens of military aircraft to Tajikistan and to Uzbekistan in August as the Taliban swept to power.

In September, a U.S.-brokered deal allowed a larger group of Afghan pilots and other military personnel to be flown out of Uzbekistan to the United Arab Emirates

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