Taliban Secretly Escorted Americans to Kabul Airport Amid Frantic Evacuation, Report Says

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Afghan refugees exit an US air force plane upon their arrival at Pristina International airport
Afghan refugees exit an US air force plane upon their arrival at Pristina International airportCredit: ARMEND NIMANI - AFP
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Haaretz

Members of the Taliban escorted Americans to Kabul airport after the United States and the militant group reached a secret agreement as the U.S. was pulling out of Afghanistan, CNN reported Wednesday.

As crowds of Afghans sought refuge, American citizens and passport holders were told to meet at gathering points near the airport so that the Taliban could check their documents and take them to a designated gate where American forces were stationed, two defense officials told CNN.

U.S. forces set up a so-called secret gate at the airport and established "call centers" to manage and help Americans through the evacuation process, one official noted.

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A military official said the arrangement with the militant group "worked beautifully." However, other testimonies by people involved in efforts to get Americans and Afghans out of the country noted there were issues, especially in the beginning.

Taliban escort tasks took place "several times a day," the report noted. However, in the beginning, the Taliban turned away Americans and paper holders, multiple sources who tried to use the passage said.

Senior officials in Biden's administration emphasized throughout the evacuation that the Taliban had committed to provide a safe passage, and that the group was cooperating.

Last week, U.S. President Joe Biden dispatched the nation's top spy to secretly meet the head of the Taliban, in the highest level diplomatic encounter since the militant group took over Afghanistan's capital, the Washington Post report found.

The Post, citing unnamed U.S. officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said CIA Director William Burns met Taliban Leader Abdul Ghani Baradar in Kabul on Monday as the Biden administration continued its efforts to evacuate U.S. citizens and other allies amid chaos at the airport in Kabul.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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