Turkey evacuates first batch of its citizens from Afghanistan

Some 324 Turkish nationals were brought back to Turkey from Afghanistan through a special Turkish Airlines flight with Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu stating that the Turkish Embassy in Kabul is in constant contact with all the citizens who wish to be evacuated from the country.

A special Turkish Airlines flight sent to bring back Turkish nationals from Afghanistan arrived at the Istanbul Airport with 324 passengers late afternoon Aug. 16. It was not immediately clear whether the evacuations will continue as the air traffic cannot be handled properly due to massive numbers of Afghans who flocked to the airport to flee the country.

In the meantime, Turkish Airlines on Aug. 16 canceled all scheduled flights to Afghanistan, following the Taliban’s capture of the capital Kabul. The national flag carrier has normally 10 flights between Istanbul and Kabul in a week. The worsening situation in Kabul has led to all commercial flights from the airport being canceled.

Çavuşoğlu informed that the Turkish Embassy contacted around 1500 Turkish citizens residing in this country as well as owners and workers of the Turkish companies for their potential evacuation.

“We are now collecting the demands from our citizens. We are going to provide all the necessary opportunities for those who want to leave Afghanistan in coordination with other relevant institutions. We have completed necessary preparations,” he informed.

Turkey has been in communication with all the relevant parties in Afghanistan and has taken all the necessary measures for the protection of the Turkish citizens, Çavuşoğlu said, while also informing that the Turkish Embassy has been continuing its activities round the clock.

In the meantime, a special meeting has taken place at the Defense Ministry under the leadership of Defense Minister Hulusi Akar to assess the latest developments in Afghanistan where Turkey has around 500 troops based at the international airport. The commander of the Turkish troops in Afghanistan attended the meeting and provided information about the situation, according to the sources. Akar and other participants underlined that the priority was the safety of the Turkish troops and officials based in Afghanistan.

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